Winston-Salem & The Triad
In 2001, Arts For Life got its start in Winston-Salem, at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s Brenner Children’s Hospital. Eleven-year-old Katie was diagnosed and being treated for bone cancer at Brenner when her older sister, Anna, thought it would be a great idea to bring cameras and film to patients on the pediatric oncology unit and teach them photography. Katie became Arts For Life’s first art student, and Anna the first art teacher.
Today, Arts For Life’s Program Director Betsey McLawhorn and her team of volunteer teachers, interns, and fellows continue to bring top-notch arts education to more than 4,000 patients and family members each year at Brenner. Thanks to support from the hospital, their Arts & Health Committee, and many doctors, nurses, healthcare providers, and others, we continue to serve more and more children in Winston-Salem each year.
At Brenner, the Arts For Life team brings the arts to patients and families:
- at the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Clinic waiting room art table on the 9th floor;
- at patients’ bedsides on the Pediatric Inpatient Unit;
- and at the Specialty Clinic art table on the 7th floor, including Cardiology and Nephrology.
“Arts For Life provides our patients and their siblings with an important creative and developmentally appropriate outlet to utilize while they are passing long, hard hours in treatment. Children and adolescents’ anxiety tends to rise as hospital time approaches. At the Arts For Life table, they make art, they learn, they express themselves, and they talk about what is going on with their treatment and in their lives. Arts For Life is a vital part of the healing process in these children’s lives.”
—Dr. Marcia Wofford, pediatric oncologist, Brenner Children’s Hospital
Durham & The Triangle
Arts For Life began operating at Duke Children’s Hospital & Health Center in Durham in 2003. Duke Children’s Hospital is a very special place for Arts For Life to operate because they care for kids and families from so many different places: the Triangle area, throughout North Carolina, across the country, and even from around the world. We work with patients who speak many languages, but the languages of art and music are universal and ring loudly through Duke’s halls. Program Director Mary Margaret Fulk, a past recipient of Duke’s “Strength, Hope & Caring Award” for excellence in patient care (an honor usually reserved for doctors and nurses), leads her team of teachers in providing art, music, and creative writing lessons to more than 2,000 kids and family members each year.
Since 2003, Arts For Life has partnered with Duke to provide quality art education to pediatric patients and family members:
- in the Valvano Day Hospital, at the art table and in treatment rooms;
- on the Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Unit;
- at the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th floor clinic waiting room art tables;
- and at bedsides on the Pediatric Inpatient Unit.
“Arts For Life also helps kids long-term, because there are patients who may see a cure to their disease and see treatment come to an end, but they still deal with emotional trauma—from being here in the hospital, not being a ‘normal’ child for so long. What they learn at the art table, as far as confidence and building relationships, helps carry them through the rest of their lives and have success as a survivor.” —Kristen Ammon, nurse manager, Duke Children’s Hospital & Health Center
Asheville & Western North Carolina
In 2003, Arts For Life expanded westward to Asheville and Mission Children’s Hospital. Asheville, also the home of Arts For Life’s headquarters, is well-known for its creative community of artists, musicians, and craftsmen. Our partnership with Mission Children’s Hospital is unique because Mission serves the entire 18-county region of Western North Carolina. If a child is diagnosed with cancer or another serious illness, they are sure to be cared for by the dedicated and compassionate team at Mission Children’s Hospital, including Arts For Life.
Since 2005, Program Director Annie Rogers has led her team of art and music educators in helping over 2,000 patients annually learn and create while in the hospital. Arts For Life can be found at Mission Children’s Hospital:
- at the Zeis Cancer Clinic art table and in treatment rooms;
- at kids’ bedsides on the Pediatric Inpatient Unit;
- and at the waiting room art table at the Olson Huff Center for Child Development.
“When a child is diagnosed with cancer it changes everything for that family. The siblings often times take a backseat to whatever is happening in the sick children’s life. But when they come here, Arts For Life makes sure that the siblings are involved. Arts For Life makes them feel just as important and special as their brother or sister. Words cannot adequately express what Arts For Life does for the children, parents, and siblings. The children in our community need this.” —Melanie Clark, nurse, Mission Children’s Hospital
In early 2015, Arts For Life launched a partnership with Carolinas HealthCare System’s Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte. In our first year, we reached over 1,000 patients and family members through the arts. We also bring regular art sessions to kids and families at the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte.
At Levine Children’s Hospital, Program Director Sarah Ness leads our work in the following areas:
- in four inpatient playrooms
- at children’s bedsides
- on the Pediatric Dialysis Unit, and
- the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.
”Arts For Life provided my daughter with a way to deal with the pain and long visits to the hospital. With her Arts For Life teachers, Elizabeth was able to express herself, be herself, feel herself, away and apart from the strong medicines she was receiving. Arts For Life was a lifeline for her spirit.” —Ann, mother of patient Elizabeth