Risa Wellness Project@THEARC Addresses Challenges Facing DC’s Ward 7 and 8 Families

Historically, the Anacostia River in Washington, D.C. has been perceived as the dividing line between the “haves” and the “have nots.” While prosperity, access and opportunity flourished west of the river, east of the river communities (Wards 7 and 8) found themselves locked in a cycle of failing schools, unemployment, crime and generational poverty. Ward 7 and 8 are home to 40% of D.C.’s youth – nearly half of who live at or below the poverty level.

The unemployment rate for young adults is twice the national average in Ward 7 and nearly three times the national average in Ward 8. Only 4 out of 10 youth who begin high school in Ward 7 and 8 will graduate and 73% of Ward 8 families are headed by a single parent household.

East of the river also have the highest levels of illiteracy, health disparities, crime and truancy in the District. According to the D.C. Behavioral Health Association, only half of all children in the District covered by Medicaid receive the mental services they need.

About the Risa Wellness Project@THEARC

Initiated in the fall of 2013 and launched in phases, the Risa Fund (founded in memory of Marisa Schonfeld) has partnered with THEARC to create the Risa Wellness Project@THEARC, a multifaceted initiative offering mental health training to all partner organization staff, on-site mental health counseling, access to increased psychiatric care and coordination of all mental health services at THEARC. Taking a holistic approach to wellness, the Project also incorporates art, music and dance therapy.

Differing from one-time investments, the Risa Wellness Project@THEARC will have long-lasting impact, as it will provide ongoing access to high quality, culturally sensitive and coordinated mental health services for low-income children, adolescents and their families.

Learn more about the Risa Wellness Project@THEARC.