design for the wellbeing
of black women

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The conception of Design for the Wellbeing of Black Women was birthed from the insights within the personal stories of Black women in Baltimore through in-depth interviews during my Social Design thesis. They bravely shared what it is like to live with a mental health challenge, how their communities respond, the therapy and treatment process, and what a compassionate culture supporting their wellbeing could look like and how it would feel. Their vulnerability brought forth common threads emphasizing a collective hope for love, connection, discovery, growth, wholeness, transformation and most importantly—a desire to be leaders of their own health experiences.

Launched Fall of 2017 as part of North Avenue Knowledge Exchange, Design for the Wellbeing of Black Women is a collaborative design strategy session for self-leadership and self-recovery. Participants (Black women, girls, and non-binary femmes) look at design’s role as a transformative tool that can support their healing process and collective wellbeing.

As a facilitator of the healing journey, I have been leading the design of experiences that continue engagement with the women who have participated in the introductory sessions and also creating possibilities with collaborator and friend, N’Deye Diakhate. N’Deye is a multidisciplinary artist and designer with a love of people, design thinking, and liberation, who brings a personal and passionate perspective to realizing the holistic health and wellbeing of Black women throughout Baltimore.

 
 
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N'Deye Diakhate, Collaborator + Co-facilitator

“It’s been a blessing to meet and work with Denise on D4WBW. A few years ago before I dropped out of school, my Graphic Design thesis was heading in this direction: to discuss the perspectives of black women around mental health. But due to my own mental health, I had to put these ideas on the backburner. So for years later, to see her poster for her own thesis in Social Design surrounding mental illness and BW, I knew I had to talk to her. Diving in was almost too easy lol. She has so much research and vision, but what really got me was the idea of switching from just creating space for discussion and healing, to designing and developing tools that can facilitate that healing. Bouncing ideas and tackling this from a design perspective with a fellow black femme designer was an outlet I didn’t even know I needed. I’m so excited to create and develop more work together!”

 
 
 

participants on new skills
+ knowledge gained

 
Design is everywhere.
That black women do desire to heal.
How to process and reflect with a new, empowering and validating perspective.
Sense of self, sense of place, sense of community.
That being a Black woman means that I’m essential, but that I shouldn’t be expendable.
How design and mental health connect, and are important to connect.
Prototyping. Design is for everyone!
That my experiences aren’t isolated.
 
 

interested in being apart of our
design + healing journey?

I’m currently looking for social workers, mental health practitioners, artists and designers (whether you are professionally practicing or in school) to support participants moving forward.

And if you are a community leader interested in bringing D4WBW to the group that you serve,
I would love to hear from you.