Arts in Medicine program unites creativity and caring

OneFoundation photo – Val Fleming recently visited Niagara Health’s Walker Family Cancer Centre to see firsthand the Arts in Medicine program which has benefitted from her donation. From left to right:  Bonnie Van Veen (Clinical Manager, Walker Family Cancer Centre), Roger D. Ali (President & CEO, OneFoundation), Val Fleming, Barb Legg, and Laurie Sadowski (Arts in Medicine Coordinator)

Gift of $40,000 funds art program at Walker Family Cancer Centre

In February, Niagara Health’s Walker Family Cancer Centre officially launched a new program called Arts in Medicine thanks to a donation of $40,000 gifted by Val Fleming.

The program aims to positively engage with patients and caregivers by providing the opportunity to explore creativity and participate in waiting room events, workshops and musical sessions.

On April 11, Val Fleming visited the Walker Family Cancer Centre to experience the impact of her donation firsthand through a showcase of the Arts in Medicine program. Albert and Wendy Schuit also spoke about the meaningful impact the program has had on their cancer care journeys at Niagara Health. Albert Schuit explained that the program’s Guided Relaxation with Music “brings something positive to a place where you usually feel negative.”

The Arts in Medicine program truly demonstrates Niagara Health’s commitment to compassion in action by helping to enhance the patient experience in an entirely new way for the more than 2,500 Niagara residents diagnosed with cancer each year.

Bonnie Van Veen, Clinical Manager at the Walker Family Cancer Centre says, “This donation is helping Niagara Health create meaningful connections between patients, caregivers and program facilitators through the power of music and creativity. We know that it will leave a lasting impression on the patients and families who are able to experience the wonderful program.”

Jacob Stirpe, a Brock University Medical Science student and musician, is one of the program’s Drum & Strum facilitators. He is touched by the remarkable response he has received. Jacob interacts with a constant stream of patients, caregivers, volunteers and staff members during his guitar sessions, and feels that he is “truly giving back to the community when volunteering with this program.”

The program came to fruition when Barb Legg, a member of the Walker Family Cancer Centre’s Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC), joined a subcommittee established and led by Laurie Sadowski, a student working to integrate creative arts into medical care. Sadowski created the subcommittee in conjunction to developing arts programming at the Centre, later conducting a thesis study for her Master’s in Community Music at Wilfrid Laurier University.The study looked at the benefits of engaging patients with music through a six-week ukulele class held at the Walker Family Cancer Centre.

Mrs. Fleming, a friend of Barb Legg, stepped up to make the program a reality with a generous donation. Mrs. Fleming committed to donating $20,000 for two years, totaling $40,000. This contribution ultimately financed the establishment of the Arts in Medicine program and has also allowed Ms. Sadowski to continue her important work in the cancer centre as the Arts in Medicine Coordinator.

Val Fleming, her late husband Art and their family are fondly recognized in the Niagara community for their generous support of and charitable contributions to many non-profit organizations in the region over the years. OneFoundation for Niagara Health System and Niagara Health are incredibly grateful to Mrs. Fleming for helping enhance the patient experience at the Walker Family Cancer Centre.



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