“Hi, I’m Rebecca with Art from the Heart. Do you want to make paper airplanes to fly at your doctors or nurses?”
As volunteers visiting patients and families at The University of Vermont Children’s Hospital at the UVM Medical Center, we need quick and playful ways to evaluate how to offer support and offer families access to the arts. Art from the Heart volunteers approach children and families with only basic information, such as age and name. By introducing ourselves with a near practical joke we can see if kids may need time to rest or time to create. Our entrance into the room ideally inspires a giggle, even if it isn’t the beginning of an all-out art making and art-plane racing session.
Some of us don’t think we are artists, but most of us have made paper airplanes. Paper airplanes are a gateway to art making. First you are folding, then flying and before you know it you are drawing and decorating – maybe racing stripes or flowers or your name and favorite team. We can all create, and Art from the Heart has easy instructions on hand.
Creativity helps us shift our mindsets. We begin to imagine other worlds and possibilities when we embark on creating. We have choices and power. Art is an antidote when we need care, and are without many options. Making adjustments, experimenting with materials and flow, the art of paper airplane making gives us options.
As our plane flies we try to use our body’s leaning and movements to influence direction. In some ways we move in parallel as our craft soars. Our intentions are launched, we are moving, present, laughing and looking out. Part of the goal of working with the kids is to get them out of their rooms and moving around if they are up for it. We are helping kids to be kids and subvert the power structure of being in the hospital so that they feel most like themselves – present and aware. When we fly the hall of a hospital wing, we navigate with a new sense of purpose, we are launching flights of imagination.
Art from the Heart’s creative, playful approach supports healing – in many forms – by opening up expression, as a means to understand our surroundings, as a window to imaginative worlds and as an invitation to move our bodies.
As a program of Burlington City Arts, Art from the Heart helps to fulfill the BCA mission of sustaining and enhancing the artistic life of the greater Burlington area. Art from the Heart is supported by Children’s Miracle Network, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Northfield Savings Bank, and many individual friends of Art from the Heart.
Here is a link to the paper airplane directions that we use. Enjoy!
Rebecca Schwarz is the Coordinator of Art from the Heart, a program of Burlington City Arts at the University of Vermont Children’s Hospital at the UVM Medical Center. Rebecca’s degree from the Rhode Island School of Design in sculpture, and MFA in interdisciplinary Arts with an emphasis on community engaged art from Goddard prepared her in connecting volunteers, pediatric patients and art making at the UVM Medical Center as an extension of her own creative practice.