Winona nonprofit Solomon’s Song recently gifted the Winona Public Library and The Joy Labs a $7,000 grant to continue community-based programming and enrichment supporting mental health with teens in the Winona community. This fall, the two organizations will reconnect with the Winona Area Learning Center, Our Voices, and Winona Senior High Gender Spectrum Alliance to continue their work creating a more resilient and welcoming Winona through creativity, mindfulness, and conversations about mental health. 

Collaboration between these groups over the past year has been fruitful, resulting in a series of mini-murals featuring supportive statements in the youth section of the library, an art show focused on resilience, and vibrant resilience-themed murals at the East End Recreation Center. “The artwork is beautiful, tangible evidence of our time getting to know each other,” notes Sarah Johnson, one of the project's facilitators. “A really gratifying and important part of this project is the kinds of conversations we get to have with young people. Things like how to manage anxiety, where to get connected to resources when you no longer have a place to call home, how to support someone who is struggling — this is why Tricia and I are so excited to keep working with these groups.” 

Youth Librarian Tricia Wehrenberg agrees, "Helping young people feel welcomed and supported within their community is an integral part of the work Winona Public Library does every day. We all play a role in supporting mental health, and this project is a colorful way to beautify public spaces and cultivate understanding."

Interested viewers can see artwork from past collaborations between these groups in the youth section of the Winona Public Library and at the East End Recreation Center. To follow along with this project, visit the Winona Public Library and The Joy Labs social media pages.