When you think about your town and your community, what is it that you love about it? That was the question posed to elementary school children throughout the Duneland, Portage and Valparaiso school systems by Porter Health Care System in an engaging collaborative art project dubbed Children Helping Children.
The goal of the Children Helping Children project was to create a child-friendly mural in one room at each of Porter’s three Emergency Departments. Porter asked students to participate by drawing a picture of their community; and explained that the winning artwork would be used to create a mural to help other children seen in the ER – possibly their friends, neighbors or siblings -- feel more at ease during what can be a very scary situation.
The winning artists of the Children Helping Children project were invited to Porter Regional Hospital on Wednesday to receive an award for all their hard work and creativity. They each received a framed copy of their original artwork and a certificate to take home with them.
“This is a great project that’s coming to fruition,” said Porter Health Care System CEO, Steve Lunn.
“The challenge we put out to everybody was, ‘how do we make our emergency rooms a little more kid friendly?’,” Lunn said. “The kids were asked to create drawings of their communities and what they love about their communities. We put the challenge out there not knowing what kind of a response we would get. We thought maybe we would get a few submissions that came back and, wow, were we wrong! We had an overwhelming response.”
After each school system had narrowed down their selections, 90 pieces of artwork were submitted to Porter Health Care System which then were judged by a committee overseeing the selection of the winners.
Karin Birchel, Community Programming Coordinator with Porter Health Care System, made Children Helping Children a priority as soon as the project was handed over to her and the collaboration got underway.
“It’s been great!” Birchel said. “I reached out to the three different school corporations and immediately I had the art teachers excited about the project. They couldn’t wait and were thankful that we were including them.”
When the winners were announced they were invited to go see the finished murals and sign their name on them. While there, the artists were able to meet the muralist, Pete Cortese, who explained to them how important their work will be to the children who have to visit these new pediatric emergency rooms in the future.
“It’s more than just a painting on a wall,” said Birchel. “It’s about making children feel less scared when they have to visit (the E.R.). It showed them that, yes, they’re a great artist but also that what they’ve done will mean something to another child.”
Autumn Spencer, a 3rd grader at Jackson Elementary, was one of the winners from the Duneland School Corporation and she said, “I wanted to show people that I love school and I love playing outside in the trees, and I love how we can be safe at school and there’s nothing we have to worry about.”
Two winners were chosen from each school district and the artwork from both students was combined to make one large mural in each of Porter’s three Emergency Departments. The murals were painted by local artist and Hobart native, Pete Cortese.
Duneland - Artwork showcased in the mural at Porter Regional Hospital:
Autumn Spencer - 3rd Grade, Jackson Elementary
Megan Wilcox - 4th Grade, Brummit Elementary
Valparaiso - Artwork showcased in the mural at Valparaiso Medical Center:
Aislynne Fizer - 4th Grade, Hayes Leonard Elementary
Emma Swink - 4th Grade, Northview Elementary
Portage - Artwork showcased in the mural at Portage Hospital:
Gianna Otero - 5th Grade, Myers Elementary
Grace Majda - 5th Grade, Kyle Elementary