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Journey House’s Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) program was founded in 2022 to support the development of artists and creative people that have experienced the child welfare system. Our goal is to assist community members in finding self-determination—the ability to define, name and speak for oneself—through an intentional art practice. VAPA staff work alongside community members in developing their original creative ideas, assisting in building a professional portfolio of their art practice, generate platforms to uphold the creative work of community members, and locate opportunities to showcase artists’ work.


VAPA has assisted our community members in creative projects in the following fields: Photography, Dance, Music, Painting, Screen Printing, Creative Writing and Graphic Design. Our program development is unique in that it has been built entirely by community members with lived experience in the child welfare system. Our non-hierarchical studio system allows for creative collaboration to take place across mediums. Folks from our painting studio work with folks in the writing studio to produce visuals alongside writing, our photo studio works with our music studio to produce collaborative projects, etc!


In our first year we have seen our community members grow confident in their art practice, produce professional portfolio level work, receive national recognition of their talent, and work in community to develop creative spaces for folks impacted by the child welfare system.

A-WALL (Art on the Wall)


On June 1st, 2022 a former resident of Journey House’s group home stopped by the Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) program. During his visit he walked the VAPA program around Journey House, which is a physical house located in Pasadena, CA. The former resident shared the layout of the house as he remembered it, describing his old rooms and the stories he heard from his roommates. He remembered most importantly that many of his roommates ran away, which he, the other residents, and staff would describe as going AWOL.

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AWOL is a term/acronym that stands for Absent Without Leave, which has been historically and overwhelmingly used by military personnel to describe someone who is absent without notice or permission (Merriam Webster, 2022). Many actors working within the child welfare system are also familiar with and regularly use this term to describe foster youth runaways.


A-WALL is a term/acronym that stands for Art on the Wall, an initiative to exhibit foster youth developed art work across all community and art spaces. Intentionally, the A-WALL initiative appropriates language, physical space, and the in-between to demand a deeper sense of awareness in the work of all advocates, state actors, and community stakeholders.


The A-WALL collection comprises multiple voices, textures, environments, and experiences–all tied together by our shared foster youth identity. A-WALL is the first step in seeing ourselves, naming ourselves, and carving our identity into the world.


If you are interested in having our community artwork displayed in your space, please reach out to our director:


poetry anthology

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conversations + stories

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Have you ever entered a coffee shop, looked around to see people lost in their thoughts and wondered: What are they thinking?


Journey House's first arts initiative was a theater play that explored the inner worlds of its ensemble cast. Each of the  ten characters were encountered through spoken word performances based on their real lives.


The event was a Virtual Premiere hybrid format (with live and pre-recorded video elements). An immersive experience allowed the audience to live chat with each other and the writers, actors and production team.


This was an emotional and powerful event that provide a deeper understanding of the challenges facing foster youth.

This play was produced and directed by Julio Quijada, a former Journey House youth.

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