The Kensington Wellness Initiative

Sustained investment in a neighborhood reflecting Philly's diversity, challenges, and creativity.


The Kensington Wellness Initiative (KWI), a cross-departmental initiative that includes Porch Light, Community Murals, and Environmental Justice., is Mural Arts Philadelphia’s commitment to sustained investment in a neighborhood that reflects our city’s diversity, challenges, and creativity.  The initiative provides programming and multiple opportunities for community members and participants to interact with art. Listening, building trust, and responding to the neighborhood’s needs have become central to the work.

Through a series of projects focused on addressing trauma, cultivating wellness, and strengthening community by building connection and understanding, KWI’s community-led, participatory approach to public art foster space for reflection and consensus-building to support a broad concept of community wellness.

The initiative asks residents to reflect on what made their community the place they chose to live, encourages them to share how the current challenges have affected them, and urges them to think about what a better future would look like. Acknowledging their shared trauma encourages connection that is then strengthened by working on art together.

The initiative’s highlights include Our Story of Us, a crowd-sourced poem that weaves together reflections on neighborhood life; a community-building board game that showcases residents’ common bonds and helps spark conversations; and a gathering space where art is created and at-risk populations are fortified. As part of this initiative, artists Gabe Tiberino and DISTORT designed and installed a mural entitled Reaching Out (3221 Kensington Ave), and Ann Northrup’s beloved Heart of Kensington will be restored. Brightly-painted newspaper boxes scattered throughout the area bring a much-needed pop of color to the neighborhood and hold critical public health information and resource lists.

our story of us © 2021 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Trapeta Mayson, 2400 Kensington Avenue. Photo by Steve Weinik.

KWI Goals 

  • Improved sense that change is possible
  • Improved agency for achieving health goals
  • Reduced stigma surrounding behavioral health challenges
  • Decreased social isolation
  • Enhanced feelings of safety
  • Sustained and community-led improvements to the physical environment
  • Increased collective efficacy


City of Philadelphia Parks & Recreation
McPherson Library
Step Up to the Plate
Mother of Mercy House
North Philly RCO Collaborative
IMPACT Services
Street Soccer USA Philadelphia
Free Library of Philadelphia


Mural Arts is grateful for the generous support of the Hummingbird Foundation that helped make this effort a reality. Additionally, Mural Arts would like to thank the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health, the City of Philadelphia, and Independence Blue Cross.