Framed poster with children's watercolor artwork surrounding a poem
COVID-19

Kids Thank Healthcare Workers With Poem and Paint

By on 11/09/2020

The third graders were becoming restless and unfocused. They’d been sent home from Germantown Friends School when COVID-19 struck, and had been learning remotely for two months. The novelty had worn off. And they were worried about their own safety: would they or their families get sick?

“We thought maybe the way to deal with their anxiety was to get them to think about others and not themselves” – specifically the people in healthcare who were dealing with the pandemic—says their teacher, Diana Gomez.

So the class went to work on an art-and-poetry project.

The result is a framed poster of an original poem and bright watercolor paintings the third graders created. It’s now hanging in a corridor at Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia. The poster is on the ground floor at the Tabor Road hospital entrance, where most employees arrive and leave from work.

The poster has a heartwarming message and is special to one particular employee: Einstein President and Chief Executive Officer Barry R. Freedman. One of the third graders is his grandson, Max.

Gomez and her assistant teacher, Andrew Wraith, called it the “Beauty Project.” They sent gift packages of watercolors and paper to each of their pupils and instructed them to “look out their windows and find something they thought was beautiful and do a watercolor of it,” Gomez says.

After the children handed in their watercolors, the class met on Zoom and “wrote the poem together,” Gomez says. She took notes on a whiteboard as they contributed to the poem. It goes like this: 

The Colors of Gratitude

Your help is as caring
as sunlight on a flower
as a bee flies to pollinate it.

Your work is a soft velvet blanket
helping people to fall asleep.
And when they wake up
they are stronger
than they were before.

The care you give
is a vibrant sheet of sun
beautiful colors against the sky
Reflecting sunlight
glowing
leaving people with gratitude.

You leave your kindness with others
so they will have it too
and they will always
remember that
You helped them.

“It was so heartwarming,” Gomez says of their creation.

Gomez and Wraith assembled the poem and paintings, and Gomez’s 19-year-old son used Photoshop to create a poster out of them.

Meanwhile, Gomez wanted her class to talk to a healthcare worker, so she sent an email to their families asking if they knew anyone who worked in a hospital. Max’s mom – Freedman’s daughter – said she did.

Gomez arranged a Zoom interview with Freedman, and Freedman’s grandson introduced him to his classmates.

“The kids had a lot of questions for Barry,” Gomez says. He spoke of “working with scientists to find out the best way to help people,” and he mentioned everyone from physicians to security guards to housekeepers to nurses to researchers and everyone else who is part of the network. Then one of the third graders asked him what exactly his job was.

“He told them his job is called CEO,” Gomez says, “and he explained that it means he helps all the teams at the hospital get what they need to do their jobs.”

Gomez says she had no idea that he was the head of Einstein before the call; neither Max nor his mother had said a word. “He was great with the children,” she says.

Freedman is appreciative. “I was really happy to know my grandson and his class were being taught the importance of healthcare heroes helping those in need,” he says.

And yes, the “Beauty Project” worked; it helped motivate and cheer Gomez’s pandemic-weary third grade class. Now it can do the same for Einstein employees.   

“We thought it would be nice to bring a little bit of that beauty outside to people who were dealing with something difficult and needed to be reminded that there’s a lot of beauty in the world,” Gomez says.

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