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Published on October 06, 2019

Students paint tiles for oncology clinic

By Amelia Harper

Staff Writer, Rocky Mount Telegram

Some students at Northern Nash High School are using their spare time to paint ceiling tiles destined to adorn the Danny Talbott Cancer Center on the campus of Nash UNC Health Care.

Sterling Grimes, director of cancer services at Nash UNC Health Care, said the ceiling tiles will be used throughout the center.

“We are going to focus on the clinic and infusion center first,” Grimes said. Grimes said she is excited about the project.

“When Ms. Maloney shared her students’ interest, we immediately wanted to find a way to make this wonderful opportunity work,” Grimes said. “Our entire team is excited to see how patients will respond to the completed project.”

Shelly Maloney, an art teacher at Northern Nash High School, said she has produced similar artwork for the cancer center in Wilson and saw how patients appreciated the effort to beautify a clinical setting. She also has another reason to be drawn to projects for the oncology center: she recently lost her grandfather to cancer.

“Cancer is rough. It is a tough battle,” she said. “My grandfather did not live here, but he used to talk about how boring the place was where he received cancer treatments.”

Grimes agreed that the project will benefit the cancer patients.

“A beautiful and inspirational image painted specifically for patients being cared for in our community by youth living in our community means a tremendous amount to someone living with a cancer diagnosis,” she said.

Chloe Howell, 16, was painting a purple flower on her two-foot by two-foot square ceiling tile on Friday. She said she likes being involved in the project.

“I feel glad that this project allows me to bring joy to the people at the cancer center and add a little brightness to their day,” she said.

Nevaeh Mercer, 14, was drawing a colorful spirit to enliven the ceiling at the oncology center.

“I am hoping this project will give people at the oncology center ease and make them less uncomfortable or scared,” Mercer said.

The students participating in the project are members of the newly formed Positive Impact Club, which meets during “Knight Time,” a time that students can use for remediation or enrichment. Many of the school clubs meet during this time.

“The purpose of the Positive Impact Club is to make a positive impact on the school, the community and the people around us,” Maloney said.

Since Maloney teaches art classes at the school, the projects the students have engaged in so far have centered around artistic endeavors. Some of the students in the club take art classes from Maloney, while others just see the club as a way to use their creativity to connect with others.

Anna Riegel, 14, was painting a lovely lake surrounded by trees at night during the club time Friday.

“I am trying to create a feeling of serenity,” Riegel said. “I joined the club for multiple reasons. I love art — and even if I am not the best artist, it is something I can do well, and it allows me to be able to give back to people with something I can do.”

For Chance Savage, 16, the club has a social aspect as well.

“Making other people feel good makes me feel good,” Savage said. “This club allows me to make a difference in other people’s lives without having to go out and do it all by myself.”

Grimes said she thinks the patients in the oncology center will be grateful that students took the time to participate in the project.

“Patients will be able to focus on the personal works by compassionate youth in our own community and know that they were painted just for them,” she said. “It is a privilege for our team to provide care to patients at the Danny Talbott Cancer Center, and these works will brighten the patients’, their caregivers’ and our team’s day every day.”

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