Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Charlotte, N.C. -- This year, art students at John M. Morehead STEM Academy gave back to the community by creating Bottles of Hope for patients at Presbyterian Buddy Kemp Cancer Support Center.
Bottles of Hope was started by a Rhode Island cancer patient in 1999 to spread cheer and hope to other patients. These bottles, recycled from their original use, are covered in clay, decorated and then given to the patients, who are then able to write down a hope or wish to place in the bottle. The bottles have taken many diverse forms throughout the past decade.
Lisha Silver, an art teacher at Morehead STEM Academy, learned about Bottles of Hope after two of her own family members were diagnosed with cancer within the past year.
“In an effort to find a positive outlet for my own emotions, I began to research Bottles of Hope. It struck me that this was a way to help other people at a time when I was feeling helpless. I had no idea what an emotional and moving project it would become for my students,” said Silver.
A total of 108 students from Silver’s fifth grade art class worked on Bottles of Hope. Students with friends or family members with cancer were able to keep their bottle for that person. “They understood that their artwork was going to impact another human being. They were serious and respectful throughout the design and creation process,” said Silver.
By the end of the school year the students had finished the project, and Silver delivered them to Presbyterian Buddy Kemp Cancer Support Center, a local counseling and support resource recommended by a colleague. The bottles came in all colors and decorations, some even with inspirational words or quotes etched into them from Silver’s art students. All were designed to bring joy to others; some were decorated with arms widespread to embrace the recipient, and others had funny faces with googley eyes.
Marcia Lampert, Buddy Kemp Cancer Support Center’s manager, was impressed with the work. “I could easily see a survivor choosing one of the bottles and keeping it with them during treatments and on visits with their doctors,” she said. “The bottle and the message can become a symbol for strength and encouragement, something literally to hold onto.”
Several patients have already received a Bottles of Hope, and distribution will continue throughout the year. Silver hopes to engage her art students with Bottles of Hope as an art project for Presbyterian Buddy Kemp Cancer Support Center in years to come.