Out of respect for past, present, and future indigenous people’s ancestral, spiritual, and personal relationships with this land, we want to name that Arts For Life chapters operate on the lands of many indigenous nations and tribes including the Cherokee Nation, the Muscogee Nation, the Catawba Nation, and the Saponi Nation.
Learn more about the history of this land, the nations that lived here, and the nations that remain here on our Land Acknowledgement page.
Asheville & Western North Carolina
In 2003, Arts For Life expanded to Asheville and Mission Children’s Hospital. Located on the ancestral and present-day lands of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) and the ancestral Yuchi Tribe of the Muscogee Nation, Asheville is well-known for its creative community of artists, musicians, and craftsmen and is also home to Arts For Life’s headquarters. 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.
Program Director Madeline Geier leads a team of art and music facilitators 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
- 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
Winston-Salem & The Triad
In 2001, Arts For Life was founded in Winston-Salem (on the lands of the Keyauwee, Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation, and Tutelo of the Sioux Nation) 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
- At the Specialty Clinic art table on the 7th floor, including Cardiology and Nephrology
We also lead weekly art sessions at the local Ronald McDonald House of Winston-Salem, and partner with UNCSA ArtistCorps, a program of Americorps.
“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
In early 2015, Arts For Life launched a partnership with Atrium Health Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, located on the ancestral lands of the Catawba Nation and Sugaree Tribe. Since our first year at Levine Children’s Hospital, we have reached over 6,000 patients and family members through the arts.
Arts For Life staff member, Program Director Olivia Chisholm, leads our work in the following areas at Levine Children’s Hospital:
- At children’s bedsides
- On the Pediatric Dialysis Unit
- On the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit
- In the Pediatric Hematology, Oncology and BMT Program (inpatient and outpatient)
”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