Sharing hope and joy can come in many forms. When Benchmark parent and artist Dori Desautel Broudy was tapped to curate the visual art that would be displayed in the Dr. Ala Stanford Center for Health Equity in Philadelphia, she reached out to Benchmark. Dori spoke with art teacher Joan Fox about having Benchmark kids create art for this project, and Joan says, “I immediately knew that I wanted to work with the students to evoke hope and joy.”
The Dr. Ala Stanford Center for Health Equity is a new clinic that offers a combination of primary care, preventative medicine, and behavioral health. It opened on Wednesday, October 27, 2021, and is named for and led by Dr. Ala Stanford, the founder of the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium. Dori says, “Dr. Stanford has led the charge in providing barrier-free COVID testing and vaccinations in Philly and beyond to the most vulnerable populations, and she and her team of front line workers are incredible. The Center is going to be a critical resource of health services and community engagement for a lot of people.”
Our Benchmark student artists were from our two youngest classes, led by teachers Zeffie Spirokostas and Karen Berry. Joan and the students set to work on a collage project composed of painted hearts and heart outlines, inspiring thoughts of love and spaces where love can grow. Joan says, “It was very important to me that the children were involved in creating collaborative work, not just lots of individual projects.”
Zeffie says, “We had just begun our unit on community and what it means to be a good citizen when Mrs. Broudy informed us about the project. As a class, we learned about Dr. Stanford’s work and her efforts to meet the needs of the community. The students easily identified the impact that one person, like Dr. Stanford, can have in their community. She is an inspiration to us all!”
The project creation began in the art room, and when more work was needed, Joan moved the workspace to the library, so the students could easily visit from their classrooms to add to the growing creation. While in this public space, adults and other students grew interested in the project, and Joan invited them to add hearts as well.
In their classrooms, working with Zeffie and Karen, students contributed positive words that describe medical professionals, such as dependable, kind, and persistent. These words became the borders of the artwork. Each student also made an individual heart of their own for them to keep. “It helps them to have a memory of their experience,” Joan explains. In total, Benchmark students made four poster-sized artworks to donate to the consortium.
Joan notes, “This project offered students the opportunity to share with the wider world community. They shared a love beyond their classroom or school.”
Karen shares, “As Penn Broudy's former teacher, I was honored to be included in this incredible project. I learned about Dr. Stanford through Dori's previous work with her and it is wonderful that my students could also learn about and support Dr. Stanford's center with their creative work.”
Dori, with her son Penn (Benchmark ‘27) was present at the grand opening of the Dr. Ala Stanford Center for Health Equity on October 27. Dori says, “It has been overwhelming to me—both as an artist as well as a parent—to see the thoughtful, beautiful, truly authentic displays of creativity, kindness and gratitude that the entire Benchmark community has created for the Dr. Ala Stanford Center for Health Equity. I knew, from the moment that I connected with the teachers regarding this endearing project, that the words and gestures of children and their teachers (another group of incredibly hard-working, critically important front line workers), would serve as a wonderful reminder to the health care community that they are appreciated and admired. When my son, as well as our entire family, attended the ribbon-cutting of this very special place, Penn immediately identified and showed great pride in seeing the works from Benchmark front-and-center for staff and visitors alike to enjoy. I applaud the Benchmark faculty—Joan Fox, Karen Berry, and Zeffie Spirokostas in particular—for taking a tumultuous time in our history, and creating not only teachable moments, but an organic way to highlight hope, empathy, and something truly celebratory in the process.”