Describe what your organization does, especially the main issue or problems it addresses (your mission or goals):
Arts For Life is dedicated to supporting children and young adults facing serious illnesses. By providing visual art, music, and creative writing education, we enrich patients’ lives and encourage positive healthcare experiences for children and their families.
Arts For Life Asheville operates successful pediatric clinic art stations, patient and family art support groups, bedside inpatient art lessons, and volunteer, internship, and music fellowship programs at Mission Children's Hospital. Our staff members are artists and teachers who believe the arts are key to creating and maintaining vibrant and healthy communities.
We work with a diverse group of patients and their siblings, ranging in age from 2 to 22. AFL serves African-American, Hispanic, Caucasian, and Native American patients from both rural and urban settings.
What types of service-learning opportunities do you have for students:
We offer teaching internships that attract students from across the country. Arts For Life staff guide interns in teaching the arts to children with serious illnesses, disabilities, and other medical conditions. In addition, AFL staff provides interns with direction in goal setting, curriculum development, materials organization, clinic and hospital work, and valuable teaching methods.
We also envision that committed college students can help Arts For Life find empirically sound research on the arts in healthcare (and possibly conducting research and/or evaluations of our own), as well as help us update and optimize our website.
How do you envision students learning and growing from their involvement? Can you envision any ties to their academic work (for example, will they work on a problem related to issues they might study in their classes):
AFL interns enjoy a level of responsibility and depth in their work with children and families not often found in the internship setting. We train our interns well by fully preparing them to meet the needs of our populations, and they undertake many hours of direct service to the community of young patients and families we serve. Interns often report a sense of ownership and autonomy, while also feeling supported by supervisors and staff. Interns also gain valuable real-world experience in the healthcare setting.
Will you train students? Supervise them? If so, please explain how:
It surprises many people to learn that it often takes at least a month to get started teaching in the hospital due to the thorough training we provide. We send all of our interns, volunteers, and staff through hospital volunteer training, in addition to our specialized Arts For Life training. This includes a hospital orientation and interview, immunizations check and TB testing, background check, and hospital training - and that's not including AFL's training sessions and shadowing!
We want our interns and volunteers to be fully prepared for this special opportunity to work with young patients and families. AFL staff work closely with volunteers and interns, through training and preparation to ongoing programming and emotional support.
Scheduling could be an important issue. Please note the available times students could work with your organization:
Is there a minimum number of hours you require of students in a semester (which lasts 15 weeks)? Do you require or ask students to stay longer than a 15-week semester:
We offer a summer (12-week) internship as well as an academic-year (nine-month) internship. Both internships entail at least 250 service hours. The reason we structure our internships this way is to accommodate for additional training, ongoing supervision and continuing education, as well as time spent planning and writing lessons and outside reading and research. We have found that this amount of time allows the intern to more fully develop their teaching style while building trust, relationships, and skills in the AFL setting.
UNCA has a new academic honor called Community Engaged Scholars in which students complete a Public Service Project. Those projects sometimes involve research requested by the community. Likewise, the university has Service- Learning Designated Courses, and sometimes in those courses professors are looking for research projects for their students.
If you have such a research question(s) that a student or class could help you with, write it (them) here:
We are interested in gathering empirical data regarding the success and efficacy of our work with children and families, and also the effects of access to the arts on children battling serious and chronic illness.
To get involved, please contact:
Arts For Life
50 South French Broad Avenue Suite 258 Asheville NC 28801