Art for a Start
What started as an idea has become a successful program to help patients at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center during their treatment journey. Victoria Lorenz, a student at Lancaster High School and a member of the Yroswell Street Team, came up with the idea when she was in middle school after seeing several people who were very close to her battle cancer. She was looking for a way to help and knew that art reduces stress levels, which can be very high when someone is faced with a cancer diagnosis. The idea was that patients could use donated art supplies to relax, take their mind off their diagnosis and have a little fun.
Victoria took her idea to the administrator of the Student Council, who helped her prepare a presentation to give to the principal. In the spring of 2016 the principal approved the idea and Art for a Start was born. Victoria and several of her classmates took the initiative to collect donated art supplies, including coloring books, gel pens, colored pencils, markers, crayons, construction paper and paint. In their first year the group brought four large bins of supplies to Roswell for pediatric patients. The following year they wanted to expand their project beyond the middle school. Several schools throughout Lancaster joined the effort, and the group collected eight large bins of art supplies. This time, however, they delivered the supplies to Roswell Park’s Resource Center for Patients and Families so patients of any age could enjoy them.
The cause was near and dear to Victoria’s heart, and the second delivery of supplies reminded everyone why it was so important. When the group arrived at Roswell Park to present the gift, they caught the attention of a young patient who was walking by. He sat with them and colored pictures while waiting for his next appointment. Seeing someone use and appreciate the art supplies was an uplifting experience. It made everyone very happy and showed them firsthand why it was important to carry on this mission.
Victoria and the original volunteers who worked on Art for a Start are now in high school, but Lancaster Middle School still runs the collection every year with the help of between four and six student volunteers. Since it first started, Art for a Start has provided more than 2,000 art supplies to Roswell Park, lifting the spirits of many patients.