Students, professor donate art for young patients

"Tofu Link Looking Out the Window at the Night Sky." Illustration by Lynda Porter. From the book "Tofu Ling," by Rosanna Porter.

"Jade Meets Madame Oreo,"illustrated by Tessa Asato and colorized by Rosanna Porter. From the book "Why Jade Was Spayed," by Gaye Green.

Western Today staff

A doctor’s examination room can be a scary place for a child, even with kind and compassionate caregivers. Gaye Green, chair of the Art Department at Western Washington University, understands that. So when an appeal for “kid friendly” art went out, she and her students responded.

There will be a public celebration of that collaboration at 11 a.m. Wednesday, July 16, in Conference Room 2, downstairs at PeaceHealth Medical Group, 4545 Cordata Parkway in Bellingham.

Professor Green’s own son has spent time in the PeaceHealth pediatric clinics, so when Carol Brumet at PeaceHealth reached out to Green, she understood the need – and didn’t hesitate.

“I understand the enormous impact that one’s surroundings have on a child’s psychological well-being, especially in times of stress and illness,” Green said. “The Western Art Department, consistent with our college’s mission, provides a dynamic learning environment that nurtures critical inquiry, creative problem-solving and innovative ideas. This was a wonderful opportunity to share what we do, and at the same time expose children to the beauty and joy of art.”

Brumet was working with PeaceHealth pediatrics to make the “going to the doctor” experience as pleasant as it could be for the 50,000-plus young patients who visit each year. PHMG Pediatrics is also active with “Reach Out and Read,” introducing its youngest patients to reading, to help prepare them for success in school. As part of that program, each child from six months to six years of age is given a book to take home after his or her well visit. According to Dr. Maryanne Scott, VP of PHMG for the PeaceHealth Northwest Network, it’s all part of the PeaceHealth mission to relieve pain and suffering, and treat each person in a loving and caring way.

“We treat the whole child,” Scott said. “We want each child’s experience here to be compassionate and nurturing, as well as healing.”

More to know:

  • Prints are illustrations from books by Gaye Green and Bellingham author Rosanna Porter.
  • “Children respond to brightly colorful, engaging images” (Professor Green) such as those in books by Green and Porter.
  • The authors, Green and Porter, as well as illustrators Tessa Asato and Lynda Porter, will be at the July 16 event at PHMG.
  • One of Rosanna Porter’s books – “Tofu Ling and the Angel” – is dedicated to three children who have, or have had, a life-threatening illness. The book raised money for children’s cancer research.
  • “I believe [that] being able to provide an opportunity for children to escape from their illness into a story provides relief. I hope the stories feed their imagination, creativity, and perhaps even spark a love of reading,” said author Roseanna Porter.
  • Students from Green’s WWU summer course Art 398 – Integrated Arts for Elementary Educators – developed activities that correspond to the framed illustrations that can be used by children while waiting in the exam rooms.
  • Use of illustrations from children’s books supports the PHMG Pediatrics’ “Reach Out and Read” program, as books from the Raisykinder Publishing and Chartreuse Press were sources of the imagery.
  • “Since both the College of Fine and Performing Arts and the Art Department are committed to the importance of community collaborations and arts-based service learning, it is my hope that projects such as this will exemplify my belief that the arts can address community needs and that imagery is a significant part of our lives,”WWU's Gaye Green.