The Youth Leadership Council (YLC) proposed a project to create an artwork to sell as a fundraiser for Huntsville Hospital’s Pediatric Oncology Department. The students involved shared what they learned.
YLC officer junior Avery League organized the project with classmates Ally Below, Himica Kalra and Hollie Terry, and sophomores Walton Rogers and Michelle Okinedo.
“Our idea was to give kids in Randolph's aftercare as well as kids in the Pediatric Oncology Department at Huntsville Hospital each a small square and ask them to paint what hope or happiness mean to them,” explained Avery. “We compiled all the squares into a large painting spelling the word ‘Hope.’"
What do hope and happiness look like?
“One common theme in the kids' paintings was a cross,” Avery said. “They also painted a lot of their favorite activities, like sports or musical notes. A really sweet one was ‘St. Jude’ painted on the square, which I thought was really cool because the money is going towards pediatric oncology, and that in particular was what this girl thought of when she thought of hope. A funny one was one girl painted ‘ZZZ’ on hers for napping.”
Hollie said, “I received squares that had been painted all the same color. At first I was confused as to why they hadn’t decided to paint a pattern, animal, or word. Soon I was reminded of the fact that happiness comes in a multitude of ways and to that child the color could be their favorite or it could just make them smile, and then the answer became a lot less surprising and more amazing.”
Students learn a lot about leadership through their involvement with club activities.
“This project changed my own ideas about hope because it helped me appreciate how even such a small project can involve so many people,” Avery reflected. “People working together for a cause is always inspiring, and the fact that people were so interested and helpful gives me hope and enthusiasm for any initiatives our group or anyone else might want to take on in the future.
I learned that fundraising projects are no small task. Because the project seemed simple, I thought this whole thing would flow smoothly and be relatively easy to carry out, but that was not the case. Now I appreciate the need to plan, communicate, and start working early on in the project in order to be most successful.”
Himica had also expected this to be relatively straightforward. “My intention was for the kids just to realize that there was some sort of happiness just through the fun of painting, but after working on it, even though there were some really cool moments, I realized that even painting could be frustrating and tiring. That made me appreciate how life is; that everything has some level of stress in it, but it's all worth it for those really happy moments.”
She also learned that her ideas can be realized. “I was surprised by how open the community was to an idea from four teenagers; it made me appreciate the community a lot more!”
“Through this project,” Hollie said, “I had the opportunity to remind myself that in order for something to be beautiful it is not necessary to overthink it first. You can be made happiest by the simplest of ideas. Whether it is using all the colors in random swirls to express your feelings or drawing the hulk because he makes you laugh."
"Happiness is not an idea that has to fit into a generic box. It comes in a multitude of ways," said Hollie.
"Through watching these children paint and seeing the works of art they created," she continued, "I was able to remind myself of this very important fact. Through this project I learned how rewarding and wonderful it is to collaborate with the community around me. I was able to take a step out of my comfort zone, and make a bigger impact than I would have before. I also learned how much coordination and forethought that it takes to make a project that involves the wider community happen.”
Photos: Ally Below '16