A Brief History
In 1988, RAW designed the first statewide art therapy program for incarcerated youth, placing paintbrushes into the hands of kids. The teens RAW was working with would sometimes admit to committing crimes to get back into these detention centers because that was the only place where they felt a sense of belonging. At the time, RAW’s founder Mary Flannery was living in Lynn and was painfully aware of how many teens from her community were incarcerated. She believed RAW could be a life-changing option for Lynn youth; an alternative to these detention centers. A place they could go before their lives got to that point. In 1994, Mary and Kit Jenkins, Executive Director, opened RAW Space in Lynn, with a small group of passionate art therapists. All shared the belief that good things happen when kids feel they are a vital part of a creative community that truly cares.
What started as a single-room studio, working with 16 RAW teens, is now is a nationally-recognized organization, and cultural anchor in Lynn. RAW continues to provide 550+ youth annually with opportunities to participate in visual and expressive arts groups, film school, leadership development, employment opportunities, and college access/career exploration programming. By staffing our programs with art therapists and teaching artists, RAW effectively uses the arts as a powerful medium to deeply engage underserved youth of all ages.