Student art empowers cancer patients
March 6, 2014
Carroll High School sophomore Kourtney Mead melted eight different colors of crayons to create this 5-by-3-foot artwork now hanging in the cancer center at St. Anthony’s Regional Hospital. She was part of a team of four students who completed the project, called “Redesign Hope,” as part of a problem-solution assignment in Becky Boes’ sophomore English class.
A letter of thanks from St. Anthony
On behalf of our patients and staff at St. Anthony Regional Hospital, I would like to thank a special group of Carroll High School students who are part of the English 10 Problems-Solutions class taught by Becky Boes. These four students - Kourtney Mead, Hannah Patterson, Jack Fordyce and Zach Macke - recognized that individuals and families who are receiving care for cancer can become discouraged and downcast by the challenges they are facing. These students were motivated to design a brightly colored mural with the word "Hope" in the center.
The students started with a blank canvas and used a crayon-melting technique, which resulted in a beautiful message of encouragement for everyone who sees it. The mural will hang in the first-floor hallway of St. Anthony, near the Cancer Center and the Infusion Therapy Center.
We all have friends or family members who are affected by cancer. These students are a great example of young people working together to share a positive message of hope during difficult times. Their artwork will brighten the day for cancer patients and families, as well as encourage St. Anthony's dedicated staff who provide important cancer care services to our patients.
Thank you for your care, concern and creativity in designing this one-of-a-kind message of HOPE!
Edward H. Smith,
President and CEO,
In a waiting room in the Cancer Center of St. Anthony Regional Hospital, the bright white letters jump off the canvas covered with brilliant rainbow hues of wax, offering a simple, but powerful, reminder - Hope.
The canvas was delivered to the hospital two weeks ago by Carroll High School sophomores Zach Macke, Jack Fordyce, Kourtney Mead and Hannah Patterson. The delivery was the final piece of their problem-solution project, an annual assignment in Becky Boes' sophomore English class that encourages students to go out into the community and tackle an issue.
The students join millions across the country who have been impacted by cancer, a disease that will claim more than 500,000 lives and attack 1 million more this year alone, according to projections from the American Cancer Society.
"The world becomes a little bit colder when cancer comes in," said Fordyce during the team's presentation last fall. He and his family faced cancer three times when his mother, grandfather and a cousin were diagnosed.
The future for patients and their families can seem bleak, which is why it is important to surround them with positive messages and encouragement, said Macke.
"It meant a lot to show those people hope - to show that cancer isn't an unwinnable battle," he said. "Hopefully the painting can bring them a little joy, a little help with their battle."
Inspired by a mural at Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines - a tree on which each leaf features the name of an individual affected by cancer - the students hoped to offer a work of original art through a project they christened "Redesign Hope." They approached leaders at SARH, who responded enthusiastically.
"They identified the fact that many in our community are faced with challenges of cancer," said Trish Roberts, development director at the hospital. "We were so pleasantly surprised that the students were so aware of these issues and wanted to help."
The group originally planned to produce a watercolor painting - they were drawn by the bright mix of colors, Mead explained. To push this brightness even further, they opted to leave the paint behind and have Mead, the artist, take crayons to the next level.
Mead said high school assistant principal and former art teacher Tammie McKenzie helped with the project, ensuring they bought appropriate materials, such as a canvas that would hold the weight of the melted wax.
McKenize, who has been a judge for the problem-solution project since it began nearly 10 years ago, said she enjoyed working with the students in a "different vein" than her regular administrative duties.
"I miss teaching art, and it was fun working with students who were so creative," she said. "It's nice to be able to teach kids to give back to an institution that gives so much to the community."
Roberts said she and her fellow hospital leaders were impressed with the group's long-range vision.
"From start to finish the kids were in charge," she said. "They came up with the idea and followed through. Kudos to Ms. Boes for her encouragement of these students."
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