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Arts festival helps cancer hospital reach thousands
A cost-effective way to reach many people is to participate in a community event. That’s why a team from the James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute in Columbus, OH, is able to teach more than 1,700 kids about cancer prevention by participating in the two-day Columbus Arts Festival and an evening Kid’s Zoofari each year.
The arts festival has been particularly rewarding because the children make art that keeps on teaching other kids, therefore making an impact, says Pauline King, MS, RN, CS, director for children programming and psychosocial clinical nurse specialist at the cancer hospital. "It’s especially effective because it is kids teaching kids," she says. Often, the art projects are displayed at schools, libraries, and public events time and again.
Selected topics focus on cancer prevention areas that are beneficial to children such as anti-smoking, sun protection, nutrition, and exercise. There’s always a catchy title that is prominent at the booth. Projects offered have included the following:
• No Excusing for Using. The purpose of this theme was to teach children about the health risks associated with tobacco use. Children and parents who visited this booth were taught about the problems of second-hand smoke and the hazards of smoking or chewing tobacco. If children pledged not to smoke or chew tobacco products, they were given a colorful felt square on which to trace their hand and decorate it with sparkles. Later, the felt squares were stitched together by a professional quilt maker into four giant quilts.
• Block the Sun, Not the Fun. The second year, the theme focused on skin cancer and children were taught the slip, slap, slop rules, which is to slip on a shirt, slap on a hat, and slop on SPF 15 sunscreen. Children were asked to pledge to follow those rules before making a calla lily out of Styrofoam.
• Take the 5-a-Day Pledge. "This time, instead of having them make a part of a communal piece, we had the children make place mats," says King. Each place mat was preprinted with the logos of sponsors including the cancer institute, and described a serving of fruits or vegetables. Each child who took the 5-a-day pledge decorated the place mat with a "blow pen" and stencils and laminated it with contact paper. Children took these place mats home to reinforce the lesson.
This year, King plans to revisit the skin cancer theme and will have children decorate painter’s hats with a blow pen. "The hat is part of the sun-protection rule. It is important to wear a hat with a visor," she explains.
While King must get grant funding to cover the cost of these projects, she does not apply for formal grants. Instead, she finds organizations that will accept a letter that explains the project and its purpose. She has found particular favor with the Foundation for Visual Art in Columbus and other art organizations who want to promote art at an early age. Also helpful are businesses that donate supplies for publicity. For example, a health food market donated plastic bags and fruit for the "Take the 5-A-Day Pledge" art project, and an art supply store provided canvas and paint.
Each year, the communal art pieces are brought back to the festival. "In that way, we are able to teach previous lessons to all the kids who come through our booth," says King.
For more information about community teaching through a public event, contact:
• Pauline King, MS, RN, CS, Director for Children Programming and Psychosocial Clinical Nurse Specialist, James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute, 300 W. 10th Ave., Room 004, Columbus, OH 43210. Telephone: (614) 293-4138. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org