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School of Social Policy and Practice graduate Ashley Biden is partnering with Mural Arts Philadelphia to open a wellness center for women impacted by trauma (Photo by David Lienemann/White House Archives).

Ashley Biden, 2010 School of Social Policy and Practice graduate, is partnering with Mural Arts Philadelphia to open a wellness center for women impacted by trauma. 

Biden intends to build on her experience working with people affected by the criminal justice system, according to an interview with Elle Magazine. The new center will be located in north Philadelphia. 

The catalyst for Biden’s endeavor was her recent work with Mural Arts’ Women’s Reentry Program. Through the Reentry Program, cohorts of formerly incarcerated women are paid to create mural art projects around Philadelphia and receive job training. 

Biden recently wrapped up leading a four month-long support group for 15 women in the program. She described the wellness space as a continuation of her work supporting women affected by traumatic experiences. 

“Hurt people hurt people,” she told Elle. “And if we don’t break that cycle, if we don’t heal, the hurt will continue.”

The center will provide a safe space for women to access nutritious food, exercise, meditation, and various therapies including Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, which Biden herself found effective when processing her brother’s death. 

“I was able to get great treatment, and so I’ve been able to take some of those things that I’ve learned in therapy and use them as well,” she told Elle.

Biden hopes to make EMDR, which is normally an expensive form of therapy, accessible for women living in poverty. 

“[The center] is a developing endeavor rather than something that’s already set up,” Jane Golden, executive director of Mural Arts, said to The Philadelphia Inquirer. “It’s an idea that we think has real merit, because we’re looking for our participants to have a place to turn to after they leave.” 

Biden previously worked at the Delaware Center for Justice, a nonprofit that advocates for communities impacted by incarceration. 

She is currently applying for a doctorate in clinical social work at Penn to learn more about trauma recovery.