Against the background of a mural painted by local high school students at St. Luke’s Easton Campus, St. Luke’s University Health Network officials on Tuesday presented scholarships to the first recipients of special community grants awarded to mark the 150th anniversary of St. Luke’s founding in Fountain Hill.
The students from Easton Area High School and Phillipsburg High School who in collaboration with Lafayette College’s “Lafayette Experience” art program created the mental-health affirming mural over the past six months will each receive a scholarship check and Certificate of Artistic Excellence from SLUHN.
In addition to the individual scholarship awards, SLUHN will provide funding for a future community-based art initiative in Easton to further support health and healing, said senior Network director of Community Health Rosemarie Lister.
The student-artists awarded scholarships included Sage Brotzman, Alexandra (Lexi) DuBose and Jarista Rosario, from Easton; and Ella Gagliardi, Hannah Beck and Ciara Quiñónez, from Phillipsburg High School.
“As part of these celebrations, St. Luke’s will award special grants totaling $150,000 to partner schools and nonprofits working to make a positive impact in our community,” said Rajiika Reed, MD, vice president of St. Luke’s Community Health.
St. Luke’s has been a cornerstone institution for health care in the Lehigh Valley since its founding in 1872. The Lehigh Valley’s oldest hospital was established to provide industrial workers–many of them from the predecessor to Bethlehem Steel–with local access to health care, eliminating the long journey to New York or Philadelphia for critical treatment. A century-and-a-half later, St. Luke’s continues to honor its commitment to local business and the community.
St. Luke’s year-long celebration began this spring with employee events at St. Luke’s campuses, a special anniversary IronPigs baseball game at Coca-Cola Park and a special anniversary “Health Now” episode that aired on WFMZ-TV Channel 69. Additional events and activities are planned throughout the year.
Both Reed and Lister spoke to guests during a ribbon-cutting ceremony to introduce the mural that was unveiled Wednesday.
The three-dimensional, 30-feet-long by eight-feet-high artwork installed on a wall of the hospital’s second floor depicts pink lotus flowers symbolizing serenity, teal “honeycombs” representing interconnectedness and white bubbles for life and creativity, all designed and painted–or applied as vinyl cutouts–on a deep blue wall covering. The figures were chosen by the students over many months of planning with guidance from Jim Toia, executive director of the “Lafayette Experience” and art teachers from the two school districts: Jason Horvath of PSD, and Loren Marquardt of EASD.
Four tempered glass panels suspended from the ceiling and anchored to the floor in front of the mural offer the uplifting quote chosen by the students to title their creation: “Like the lotus, we can rise from the mud, bloom out of darkness and radiate into the world.”
Lexi DuBose, a recent Easton Area graduate, called her role in the mural creation “a big honor” and said she hopes the wall will help people “be OK, grow and learn to adapt and relax.”
It was a fitting message considering the Easton Campus’s commitment to behavioral health. Just this year, the campus opened a new Adolescent Behavioral Health Unit to provide safe, expert and compassionate care to children and adolescents experiencing serious mental, emotional or behavioral symptoms.
St. Luke’s Easton Campus President Linda Grass thanked the students, teachers, administrators and Lafayette College mentors for creating the mural to promote serenity and lift the spirits of viewers–including patients, families, hospital staff and community members–who will visit the installation, which is located near the hospital chapel.
“St. Luke’s is proud to sponsor the creation of this remarkable mural as we work every day to enhance the health of our community,” she said. “What these talented young artists have done is to offer each of us an opportunity to find peace and hope here and then take them out into the world to share with our families, friends and neighbors.”
Note: This local health news is brought to you in partnership with St. Luke’s University Health Network.