A UNC student organization, ArtHeels is a two-part program consisting of general body meetings along with a weekly volunteering component through UNC Hospitals.
Volunteers split up between the North Carolina Children’s Hospital and the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and run programs ranging from visual, performing and literary arts with patients.
“It’s a program where volunteers work with inpatient or outpatient groups, and it’s just a great volunteer opportunity for students and patients,” said Donna Daniel, adult volunteer coordinator at UNC Hospitals.
As co-president of ArtHeels, senior Sara Miles said she makes it her mission not only to bring art therapy into the greater community, but also simply to bring smiles to the patients’ faces — and smiles are abundant in the Pediatric Play Atrium of the North Carolina Children’s Hospital.
“In the playroom, it’s like they’re a real kid again, which is something you take for granted when you’re younger,” Miles said.
Volunteers also entertain children and their families in the hospital waiting rooms with arts and crafts tables, singing and even putting on clown performances.
“I think that the hospital benefits by having art therapy because it treats symptoms that can’t be treated with medicine, such as stress,” said senior Kelly Tan, co-president of the organization.
“If we can make a patient’s stay a little less stressful, their general experience will be more positive.”