Healing through art fires up imagination at South Health Campus

January 18, 2024

Sarah Stamp, left, shows off her newly painted rock with Occupational Therapy student Lauren Eiriksson.

Sarah Stamp, left, shows off her newly painted rock with Occupational Therapy student Lauren Eiriksson. Photo by Melanie Veriotes.

Rock-painting project paves way to wellness with a joyful display

Story & photo by Melanie Veriotes

CALGARY — A communal rock painting program is bringing smiles and a sense of togetherness to people at South Health Campus (SHC).

This project is seen as a path to joy and recovery for patients, families and staff — and reflects SHC's dedication to putting patients and families at the heart of care. Since the launch last summer, it’s become a hit within the hospital community.

“It's just a fun thing that brings happiness,” says patient Sarah Stamp, who beams as she paints her rock. She first noticed the cool rock garden outside the hospital and soon felt inspired to add her own touch to the collection.

Her sentiment perfectly captures the program's goal — to offer patients, families, staff and leaders a chance not only to explore their creativity, but to also express hope and positivity through art.

“We’ve received great feedback that the rock-painting engagements are a relaxing and accessible pastime for patients and staff alike,” says Megan Williams, a Calgary Zone Patient & Family Care Consultant.

“Very soon we’ll expand this activity to inpatient and outpatient areas, so pilot units will have their own rock-painting kit. Patients can paint rocks with their supports or volunteers. Staff can also use their unit’s rock-painting kit to take a ‘brain break’.”

The enthusiastic response to date highlights how this initiative aligns with the hospital's holistic healthcare approach. Williams adds: “The program would not have been possible without the collaboration of so many teams on site.”

Occupational Therapy student Lauren Eiriksson says rock painting has become a popular activity on her unit — and she's eager to see it expand throughout the hospital.

As proof of its enduring impact and community spirit, SHC built a permanent rock garden called the Pathway to Wellness. This space showcases rocks painted by patients, families, staff and leadership, to symbolize the unity of the hospital community.

The foundation for the Pathway to Wellness was laid last August, with the rock garden’s big reveal a month later. A joyful, vibrant display of painted rocks now graces the garden.

“It isn't just about art,” says Williams. “It’s a symbol of our commitment to patient-centred care. As our rock garden grows, it will stand as a reminder of our dedication to healing through creative expression.”