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Jose Ferran Jr. Has One Way to Heal Trauma: Cleaning and Greening Hunting Park

January 9, 2020

This summer, Jose Ferran Jr. was walking down Cayuga Street in Hunting Park, on a route frequented by children on their way to school. He had to sidestep weeds so overgrown that they blocked his path—and worst of all, the weeds were littered with trash.

“It was like, man, how many kids walked to school on the first day like this?” he said. “Where the whole block going to school is weeds as tall as them. Do you know what that does to the psyche of a child?”

So with the help of staff at the nearby Cayuga School, workers from the City of Philadelphia’s Community Life Improvement Program, as well as two other community members, Ferran organized a cleanup of the area. Volunteers picked up 35 bags worth of trash.

It was one of many street cleanups the 24-year-old Hunting Park resident has organized since he started in the spring of 2018. To Ferran, ridding his community of blight brings it peace and wellness. In that way, it’s similar to his other cause of choice: trauma healing.

Ferran knows trauma all too well. In 2011, he was shot in the shoulder during a fight. Now, he works for several organizations and campaigns that help people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

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Fortunately, a couple weeks after the shooting, he was approached by a social worker from Healing Hurt People (HHP), a decade-old hospital-based violence intervention program by Drexel University’s Center for Nonviolence and Social Justice. The program offers continued support to victims of violence after release from the emergency department, in order to help them cope with PTSD and avoid re-injury and retaliation.

Ferran said the social worker provided counseling services, helping him talk through his pain and imagine a better life for himself. Ferran decided to set off on a different path, one guided by his Christian faith and a newfound dedication to making his community, and the city, a better place.

“The program helped me and that introduced myself to having a greater sense of purpose,” Ferran said. “And it helped me just to see my world differently. Now I love Philadelphia. I want to see Philadelphia transform.”

Read the full article Jose Ferran Jr. Has One Way to Heal Trauma: Cleaning and Greening Hunting Park, on the Green Philly website.