Photo of the Month: Our Client Speaker at The Child Center of NY’s inaugural immersive play at Lincoln Center, “Outside In”

Child Center Residential Treatment Facility (RTF) client Jonah with Talia Banks, RTF creative arts coordinator, at Outside In at Lincoln Center
Child Center Residential Treatment Facility (RTF) client Jonah with Talia Banks, RTF creative arts coordinator, at Outside In at Lincoln Center

Photo credit: Anthony Artis

Meet Jonah, our brave, smart, funny, and insightful client who shared their story with more than 200 Child Center of NY friends and supporters on May 7—National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day—at “Outside In.”

Instead of celebrating with a traditional gala this year, The Child Center of NY joined forces with the Emmy award-winning minds at Giant Step and the Emmy-nominated team behind Disney’s “Growing Up” at SoulHouse to create “Outside In,” a unique immersive play at Lincoln Center that explored mental wellness with an engaging interactive performance. “Outside In” highlighted The Child Center’s progressive approach to mental well-being by inviting audience members to be an integral part of the experience.

There were three shows during the night, and each was filled to capacity. Each one was a dynamic adventure where guests influenced the narrative, making each performance a unique reflection of its audience. The night offered an intimate look at the challenges facing our youth, in no small part because of clients like Jonah, who chose to tell their story.

Jonah is a client at The Child Center Residential Treatment Facility (RTF), a place where youth who have had multiple psychiatric hospital stays, as well as juvenile justice-involved youth with psychiatric disorders, can get the support and fresh start they need to address their mental health challenges and begin to build the lives they see for themselves. At “Outside In,” Jonah spoke candidly and movingly about their mental health journey. They ended with wisdom beyond their years by saying to the audience, “There’s a lot I would like you to know, but because of time I can give you this one thing: Be kind, be sensitive, and try to listen.

Link to the RTF creative arts video

See the RTF creative arts program in action in this powerful video.

This Photo of the Month features Jonah with Child Center team member Talia Banks, the RTF’s creative and therapeutic arts coordinator. As Jonah confided in the audience, Jonah finds their glimmer in being able to express themselves through art, writing, and drawing. Jonah has even merged these passions into a comic book they are creating. You can see in this photo the rapport that Talia has developed with Jonah, who is building confidence in their own abilities every day with the help of Talia and the rest of the team at the RTF.

Also featured in this photo is the night’s vocal talent, FCBC Worship Ensemble Choir of Hope Center Harlem, led by Tamish Bates, and Nina Grae, musical director and composer for “Outside In.”

Jonah is a powerful reminder of why we do what we do here at The Child Center: provide more than 58,000 New Yorkers each year with the support they need to build the healthy, fulfilling lives they are capable of.

“There are many things ‘Outside In’ meant to me,” Jonah said. “One thing it meant to me was that it was insightful and it was uplifting. I hope that the audience took from the experience that whatever demons you’re facing inside are not stronger than the light outside.”

While “Outside In” was a one-night-only experience, there is still ample opportunity for people to join us in making mental health history. The Child Center began in 1953 as a children’s counseling center, and a commitment to mental health remains at the heart of everything we do. In our post-COVID reality, this commitment has never been more important, and the need for innovative solutions has never been more urgent. That is why The Child Center is launching the groundbreaking Innovation Collaborative, which will convene the brightest minds in mental health, technology, art, community work, and science and serve as an incubator for a new paradigm in mental well-being solutions—one that is dynamic, inclusive, and revolutionary.

Learn more in our press release, and see all the fabulous photos from the event in our Facebook album.

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