The art of giving back

Student volunteers share the act of artistic expression with patients through arts and crafts

Decorative dreamcatchers and red-beaded bracelets – just in time for Valentine’s Day - are some of the many crafty creations taking place between student volunteers and patients at St. Joseph’s Parkwood Institute.

students volunteering at parkwood

A unique Western University club called “Western Crafting for the Cure,” made up of student volunteers, has begun holding weekly arts and crafts sessions for mental health care patients at Parkwood Institute, an experience that is equally rewarding for both volunteers and patients.

Each week, the club coordinators choose a different craft to construct with the patients, which coordinate with various holidays throughout the year.  

patient crafting

The crafting club provides a fun, unique volunteer opportunity for students to connect and interact with individuals in health care organizations within the community, who would benefit from using arts, crafts and creative activities as a form of expression. 

Lisa Squires, volunteer services specialist at St. Joseph’s, believes volunteering is an excellent way of staying connected, building compassion and giving back to your community. “One of our goals is to provide education around mental health care,” adds Lisa. “Reaching out to community partners and having students get involved is a great way to break down mental health stigma.”

hands holding crafted braceletSecond-year Western University student Vanessa Chan, who is aiming for a career in health care, expresses that “the classroom can’t teach you everything. It’s important to get out into your community and learn things from a different perspective.”

The Western club has initiated similar activities with other organizations in the past, such as the Ronald McDonald House, Boys and Girls Club of London, and the Child and Parent Resource Institute.

“My involvement with Crafting for a Cure has been very rewarding,” says volunteer and student Masum Patel. “Some may think it’s only benefiting the patients, but the rewards go both ways. It’s meaningful to see patients enjoy themselves with the crafts we provide and also gives me better insight to what others are facing in their lives. It’s been a great experience.”

putting bracelet on

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