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PROJECT CHEER: LOVING AND SERVING OTHERS THROUGH ART

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WC students create art to benefit local senior living facility

“That girl is going to be a teacher someday,” asserts Worthington Christian Art teacher Deana England. The girl she is referring to is seventh-grader Gracie Burchwell. Burchwell recently inspired her classmates to take on a deeply meaningful project that encapsulates the learning experience of WC students. WC educators aspire to innovate around best practices to engage learners in experiential, authentic, and purposeful learning through an adaptive and student-centered learning environment. In so doing, students can develop a coherent understanding of the world, connect their learning to meaningful questions, and contribute solutions to critical problems. This is exactly what happened through Gracie Burchwell.

Several months ago, Burchwell’s grandparents moved to the Harmony Trace Assisted Living Community in Hilliard, Ohio. During her visits with them, she walked down the long hallway to their room and noticed how gloomy it seemed. Gray walls and white doors were all she saw. She and her mother Erin Burchwell learned that the facility had undergone renovations but the art work ordered to decorate the walls is back ordered due to supply chain issues. The decorative art will not reach the facility’s walls for at least six more months. A brilliantly creative person herself, Erin Burchwell wanted to do something about it–create some temporary art to fill the blank, drab spaces in her parents’ new home. When Gracie brought her mother’s idea to school and explained the situation to Mrs. England, they quickly decided this would be a great opportunity for WC students to serve the community, specifically through art; ‘Project Cheer’ was born.

Mrs. England shares, “When I heard Gracie tell her friends and me about the need at her grandparents’ place of residence and her mom’s idea for meeting that need, I knew my students needed to get involved.” In presenting the project to students, Burchwell and England explained that because of the recent facility renovations, many of the walls were gray and bare. England recalls that her students were shocked and saddened to think of the elderly residents living with such colorless surroundings. Through expressions of empathy and compassion, the students jumped right in to the project. England explains, “The students really took ownership of this project. This was not something we made them do–they embraced it and gave it their full effort. It brings me joy to see them desiring and working to serve others through their art work.”

Stephanie Creamer, Executive Director of Harmony Trace Assisted Living, tells of the importance of this project for those under her care, “At Harmony Trace, our LivingMoments Memory Care program uses art in many ways to lessen anxiety, depression, and manage behaviors exhibited through the disease process to support our residents with memory loss. The use of art engages residents, bringing them delight and genuine joy. The work Erin [Burchwell] and the students are doing to contribute to this project means so much to the community and program here.”

Enjoy the following video of Erin Burchwell and WC senior (and current art student) Leon Ren explain ‘Project Cheer’ and their experience with it. Special thanks to WC Media Center Director David Stoll for creating the video:

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