Ukulele Art Project Supports Children's Hospital Ridge Junior Students' Artwork Raising Funds for Music Therapy Program

Ukulele Art Project Supports Children's Hospital Ridge Junior Students' Artwork Raising Funds for Music Therapy Program
Ukulele Art Project Supports Children's Hospital Ridge Junior Students' Artwork Raising Funds for Music Therapy Program
Ukulele Art Project Supports Children's Hospital Ridge Junior Students' Artwork Raising Funds for Music Therapy Program

Art has been known to impact lives in many ways and now, thanks to Ridge Junior students, there’s one more way in which original artwork is positively helping others.

Students in Amy Panfalone’s art class decided to share their talents to create ukulele art with special themes, focusing on empathizing with children facing chronic or terminal illness. The school district was approached by True Joy Acoustics to have students paint four ukuleles in total. Their purpose is to attract sponsors and ultimately donate a much larger set of new ukuleles to the music therapy program at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. 
 
The 27 designs created across Amy's art class students were inspired by four themes: the range of emotions that accompany illness; the ripple effect of a caring heart; how music can soothe the soul and help with healing; and children helping children through recovery. Then a panel of 12 judges, comprised of music and art therapists working in pediatric hospitals, as well as a professional children's book author and artist, reviewed the designs. Many sent notes in with their votes praising the incredible work of the students. The panel also included a special guest, the mother of an honorary Cincinnati Children's Hospital patient who painted her ukulele with the help of her music therapist.
 
Each ukulele artwork was unique and included a personal statement from the artist, creating even more insight and inspiration. Narrowing the field to four designs for actual instrument painting was a difficult task. The artists selected were: Ronit Hiryur, Brielle Brown, Stephanie Trejo, and Marialinda Roblero Escalante.
 
“It has been great to see a teacher inspire her students to take the lessons well beyond the classroom through this community outreach project,” said Greg Huntington, founder of True Joy Acoustics. “Instruments donated from this project will touch hundreds of hospitalized children for years to come. It is obvious that the final painted ukuleles, as well as the entire set of artworks captured in a PowerPoint gallery, have been created with an abundance of heartfelt talent."
 
The initiative has several components, including a display at Midpointe Library of the four student-painted ukuleles, plus two other instruments painted by professional artist Johanna Wright. The display, which runs June 1-30, will also include images of the ukulele painted by Kenna, the honorary patient who passed away from complex immune system deficiencies. Kenna's ukulele resides with her family in Montana.

More than $1,500 has already been pledged by local individuals in honor of this work.

According to Huntington, “The fundraising now shifts to a second phase via online CrowdFunding, with the goal of supplying a total of 20 new ukuleles for Cincinnati Children's Hospital. The ukuleles are innovative and rugged in design, enabling them to last a long time in the hospital. They retail for about $200 each. The campaign will be stretching and hopefully support the donation of a similar set for music therapy at Seattle Children's Hospital. The latter is a 'sister city' beneficiary for True Joy Acoustics ukulele donations.”

The online campaign launches in June, concurrent with the public library display. Anyone interested in seeing all of the student artwork and desiring to support the initiative may do so by visiting the website www.truejoyacoustics.com.

“Kenna passed away five years ago and would have turned 14 this coming August. She would be around the age of the students who participated in this project,” stated Huntington. “Somehow, I feel it's more than coincidence that Amy and her students stepped forward to bring this project to life without knowing her story beforehand.”


Students at Ridge Junior took part in a unique art project benefiting Cincinnati Children's Hospital music therapy program (from left to right: Marialinda Roblero Escalante, Brielle Brown, art teacher Amy Panfalone, Ronit Hiryur, and Stephanie Trejo.