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Artwork Is Therapy For Artists And Viewers

By Desiree Yamamoto, marketing manager, UH-Manoa Nursing

Rehabilitation Hospital of the Pacific’s Creative Arts Program is an innovative therapeutic art studio that complements existing rehabilitation therapy programs. As a way to enhance the recovery process and improve quality of life for patients, the Creative Arts Program has touched the lives of more than 700 Hawaii patients.


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Desiree Yamamoto, marketing manager, UH-Manoa Nursing

The Creative Arts Program has offered more than 70,000 art sessions, and patients say that the program is an integral part of their emotional recovery. Dennis Okada, a former double-black-belt martial artist who suffered from decompression sickness while diving, has been an artist in the Creative Arts Program for more than eight years.

“Painting has opened a door to unexpected surprises and an endless supply of satisfaction,” says Okada.

Artwork has a transformative effect on patients recovering from both physical and emotional trauma — but artwork also has an impact on those who view it.

For that reason, University of Hawaii at Manoa School of Nursing chose to display artwork from REHAB’s Creative Arts Program in its hallways. As nursing students walk to class, many will stop to look at the artwork.

“The paintings have definitely enhanced the learning environment,” says Joanna Vendiola, a UH-Manoa Nursing student. She says that looking at the artwork helps to release stress and anxiety.

Knowing that the artwork was produced by patients from REHAB’s Creative Arts Program has a special meaning for Vendiola — it inspires her to do her best as a nursing student.

“These patients found a way to explore and express their struggles and internal feelings in a positive way, and their artwork helps us do the same,” adds Vendiola.

The artwork serves as a daily reminder that at the other end of the brush is a patient — and that motivation helps nursing students stay focused on the reason they want to become a nurse.

Artwork from REHAB’s Creative Arts Program is now available for purchase online at art.rehabhospital.org. Proceeds from artwork sales go directly back to support the Creative Arts Program. For more information about REHAB’s Creative Arts Program call 566-3790 or visit rehab-hospital.org/foundation/creative-arts-program.

Hawaii charitable organizations may send requests for space in either Proof Positive or the free advertisement below to dchapman@midweek.com.