Arts in Recovery for Youth (AIRY) is an arts and skills based suicide prevention program for youth ages 13-24, designed by art therapist and attempt survivor, Marney Schorr.
If you are a teen or young adult interested in AIRY, please see the Teen and Young Adult page in the menu for more info.
AIRY focuses on social and emotional learning and creative youth development through the expressive arts, peer support, dialectical behavior therapy and community building. It’s hybrid model is innovative and informed by suicidology, as well as trauma-informed and evidence based best practices.
Since 2017, AIRY has served over 125 youth with evidenced- based practices and measurable outcomes. For example, a three year study by Schorr (2017-2020) with 16 teens and 13 young adults measured variables for suicide risk before and after completing a four month period in the AIRY program. Initial risk factors included 55% (1 out of every 2 participants) having at least one prior suicide attempt which significantly elevated their risk. Information was gathered by numerical weekly self-report. On average, suicidality was reduced by 77% after 8 weeks in the program, reduced by 86% after four months in the program, and reduced by 95% after a year or more in the program, with many youth in full remission. Reductions in risk factors for suicide included significant decreases in urges to self harm and feelings of self hate, hopelessness, emotional pain and burdensomeness.
Participation in AIRY creates a sense of belonging, hope and empowerment for adolescents and young adults. Members who complete the initial program are eligible to transition into our other art therapy groups (Step Up, Expressive Arts Leadership, Digital Art) as well as internships, event planning and employment within the program.
The 16 week program includes resources for families about suicide prevention, safe talk and safety planning, and strategies to prevent self harm. As part of our community building model, AIRY collaborates with organizations in the arts, youth development, and suicide prevention such as art galleries, dance troupes, performing arts theatres, filmmakers, fiber artists, and nature-based day trips.
Our History & Development
Arts in Recovery for Youth began development in the fall of 2016 in response to a rise in suicide rates among youth in Berkshire County. We came together as a community to address the problem. AIRY met with interested youth, parents, educators, school adjustment counselors, child and adolescent clinicians, youth development leaders, non-profit organizations, expressive arts therapists and local area artists to form what has become a movement of hope and inspiration.
The community showed such an incredible response to this initiative allowing us to triple in size in our first year. The 100+ young people who have come through the door have helped us co-create a unique art-based safe space to build hope and belonging, and have an outlet to discharge suicidal thoughts and emotions. Their leadership pushed the program forward into new directions, and created a momentum across the county. They have used the arts to make a difference in society, to inspire, educate, and break stigma.
In 2018 the AIRY program was recognized by the Massachusetts Statehouse for its excellence in leadership of suicide prevention, and has won four award including citations from Senator Hinds and State Rep Tricia Farley-Bouvier. Founder/Director, Marney Schorr, was invited to author a book about art therapy and suicide prevention with Jessica Kingsley Publishes, and to lead and train an international audience in arts-based suicide prevention.
AIRY has grown rapidly in the last four years, with an outstanding success rate. 100% of youth served have showed improvement. We learned that maintaining caring contact well beyond the initial program, is essential for continued youth success. We have developed a multi-level program, with ongoing participation in the arts with our many AIRY alumni.
Our Message of Hope to the Community
Suicide is not an easy topic, but we are having the conversation. And we hope you will too. Every person we meet has been affected by suicide in some way or other. We all know someone who has struggled with suicidal thoughts or has experienced loss of a loved one to suicide. We read about it in the media. We see it on tv. Yet we don’t know how to talk about it. AIRY is a step forward to change that.
The commitment to recovery is evidenced by community members who have supported us, in spreading the word, showing up, fundraising, contributing art materials, mentorship and space.
The way forward is through this open-hearted collaboration, a collective of voices, passion and dedication to youth suicide prevention.
Young people matter and we need to show up and help them cope with the contemporary challenges they face – the isolation of a digital world and the impact of social media, the daily social stresses of school, cyberbullying, rejection, racism and confusion about gender identity and sexuality, the risks of substance abuse and access to firearms, and many more.
We hope you will get inspired and involved with our community model for youth suicide prevention. There is a place for everyone, for together, we are responsible for helping save young lives.
To make a donation, please visit:
To have a conversation, contact Founder/Director Marney Schorr at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (631) 697-8291.
Find us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/ArtsinRecovery/
See our events on the Calendar page.
Arts in Recovery for Youth is supported by grants awarded by:
- Berkshire Coalition for Suicide Prevention
- Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation’s Arts Build Community initiative with funding from the Barr Foundation
- Berkshire United Way and COVID relief partners
- New England Grassroots Environment Fund
- Local Massachusetts Cultural Councils in the Northern Berkshires, Pittsfield, Lenox, Great Barrington, Stockbridge and West Stockbridge
- The Golub Foundation/Price Chopper
- Berkshire Bank
- Annamaria College
- MA Department of Public Health
- Northern Berkshire United Way
We are also supported by the fundraising efforts of CommonFolk, Berkshire Theatre Group, our fiscal sponsors Barrington Stage Company and the Whitney Center for the Arts, and private donors in the community.
We would like to thank them and the following people and organizations who believe in our vision: 18 Degrees, Berkshire Health Systems, Berkshire Pulse, Brien Center, Bushnell-Sage Library, Clinical Support Options, Colonial Theatre Counseling Center of the Berkshires, Extra Special Teas, NUarts Gallery & Studios, Roots Teen Center, Senator Adam Hinds, State Representative Tricia-Farley Bouvier, Unitarian Universalist Church and the Youth Zero Suicide Prevention Program.