After experiencing a stroke, Denise woke up to a shower of get well trinkets, flowers and balloons, but there was one item that stuck out to her the most − a handmade card that she could tell was crafted by a child. “The greeting card really made her day. It made her smile and brought her joy,” said her daughter, Nicole Wozny.
Wozny is an art educator at Park View Elementary School in Kings Park. Inspired by the greetings cards, the teacher decided to connect with the local hospital close to the school − St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown. She wanted to continue the same momentum by encouraging local students to participate in the art of healing by creating special holiday greeting cards to be distributed during key holidays in December.
“What an amazing feeling for my students to get the chance to enjoy the true meaning of the holidays by sharing their art,” said Wozny.
Many scholars and educators support art in schools as it has been demonstrated to improve self-esteem and confidence as well as cultivate empathy. While the holiday season is considered the most wonderful time of the year, it can be difficult for those healing and recovering in a hospital.
“I thought how nice it would be, especially for patients who have no one visiting them or thinking of them,” said Wozny. “If every patient experiences a moment of joy from receiving a card − just as I know my mother did − our mission was accomplished.”
The month-long Park View Greeting Project resulted in the creation of 400 cards, crafted by all the elementary students who were given creative range to inspire patients.
Third-grade student council member Stella Roosa was thrilled to participate in the project coordinated by their art teacher. “I feel so happy to be able to do something for people − the cards are as special as they are,” said Stella. Another third-grade student council member, Owen Dorsey, added, “This was the best opportunity.”
“At Park View Elementary we are committed to teaching students about service − so this project was aligned with our educational mission to teach the students to care for their community,” said Principal Kevin Storch. “This project cultivates service and kindness.”
Park View Student Council students, Stella Roosa, Cassandra Chapman, Alexandra Faralan, Michael Reznick, Gabrielle Keaveny, Faith Hanley, Owen Dorsey, Ella Vicinanza, Samantha Katz, Dylan Schor, Lilah Goldman and Jack Krupp, along with Storch, Wozny and educators Traci Smith and Dana Farrell, delivered the cards on Dec. 13, just in time for the holiday season.
“We are very grateful to Mrs. Wozny and all the students at Park View Elementary School,” said St. Catherine of Siena’s President Jim O’Connor. “Their thoughtfulness and inspiring greetings will go a long way in lifting our patients’ spirits, bringing this special season alive through a heartfelt greeting card.”
Pictured with the students, from left, Park View staff member Carol Liguori; Park View Elementary School Principal Kevin Storch; art teacher Nicole Wozny; Park View teachers Dana Farrell and Traci Smith; St. Catherine of Siena’s President Jim O’Connor; St. Catherine of Siena’s Chief Medical Officer Mickel Khlat; and St. Catherine’s Community Outreach Coordinator John Perkins.
Photos courtesy of St. Catherine’s Medical Center