We chose the name EmpowART (pronounced like the word empowered) because of the dual nature of what we hope to accomplish with visual art as the keystone of our methodology.
We aim to increase the use of painting and other visual art media as a healing and therapeutic tool in hospitals and senior homes while empowering youth to be leaders and take control of their volunteering experience.
We want to empower students to be more engaged and confidently take control of their volunteering experience by leading art sessions*. In addition, we want to empower the elderly in senior homes to combat ageism and show that they are capable of learning new skills like painting and also for patients to have the strength and emotional resilience to recover by taking advantage of the healing properties of art.
*Disclaimer: It is important to note that as a youth-led initiative, we are NOT licensed art therapists but the main goal of our organization is to encourage youth to take charge of their volunteering experience and to increase the practice of painting/art in the healing and emotional recovery process in hospital and senior home settings. However we are more than happy to partner with art therapists and for more information please contact us.
Guided painting workshop will be lead by a student in a step-by-step manner so patients who may be concerned about their artistic abilities do not feel overwhelmed as each brushstroke and shape is broken down into small manageable steps. Each art workshop runs for about an hour and supplies like canvas, paint, and brushes are provided.
Meet the Team
Niha is a second year undergraduate student at the University of Toronto majoring in Peace, Conflict, and Justice Studies along with Global Health and a minor in Psychology. She enjoys finding the intersections in her passions like art, service, and science. She has had the pleasure of exhibiting her paintings in local art galleries and museums in Connecticut as well as the US Capitol Building. She uses her paintings as a form of activism, drawing attention to society’s pivotal problems to enact positive change. Through art, she has been able to experientially demonstrate that it’s never too late to learn something new, challenging ageism and combating society’s negative perception of the elderly by teaching guided painting sessions to people in nursing homes who may not have painted since childhood. Art’s healing properties led her to connect with patients in rehabilitation units of hospitals. Over the past years, she’s had the humbling experience of painting alongside people from Vietnam veterans to cancer survivors to people recovering from traumatic brain injuries. She hopes to keep finding innovative ideas to help people with her art and other interests and hopes that sharing her experience and ideas can empower students to find new ways to integrate their own talents into helping others.
Dr. Yip is a professor at the University of Toronto, researcher at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre/University Health Network, and co-founder of a biotech startup. He is a proud co-founder and supporter of the EmpowART Foundation. For more information about Dr. Yip, please see kennethwyip.com.