Over the last few years, El Futuro has expanded our view of mental health services, reaching beyond our clinic walls and engaging more deeply with our community, neighbors, and partner organizations. This deeper community engagement not only helps reduce mental health risk factors, but also increases social connection, boosts cultural resilience, and improves community well-being, building up protective factors that support families through challenging times.
The center of our community engagement is Plaza Futuro, a therapeutic garden and play space adjacent to our Lakewood clinic. Once a weedy, abandoned lot, we co-developed this space with our community and neighbors, going door-to-door to ask people about their desires for the space, and inviting neighbors for community fiestas and volunteer opportunities.
Plaza Futuro includes raised bed gardens for urban foraging, a small rain garden and fountain, a recycling stream, and a sensory garden and meditation path – all anchored by a beautiful community mural developed by renowned artist Cornelio Campos and painted collaboratively with Latino families from the neighborhood.
It is an inclusive and culturally-affirming space that welcomes all. On any given day Plaza Futuro is filled with a diverse cross-section of community residents playing, gathering, relaxing, and simply enjoying the space. It is also the site of volunteer projects, community fiestas, holiday and cultural celebrations, workshops, children’s programs, and more. This vibrant, therapeutic space nurtures, represents and celebrates individual and community identities in support of community mental health.
El Futuro’s community engagement also includes psychoeducation, support, and treatment groups; our Conexiones case management program; partnerships with schools and community-based organizations; training of community health workers; and more.
By surrounding individuals and families with supportive, wrap-around care, connecting them to additional resources through Conexiones, providing psychoeducation to help boost emotional wellness, creating opportunities to strengthen cultural pride and resilience, and building a community supportive of mental health with less stigma, we are addressing today’s challenges while building support networks, social connection, and cultural resilience to help prevent tomorrow’s challenges.