Patrick Weldon, 14, of Monongahela, Pennsylvania, an eighth-grader at St. Louise De Marillac Catholic School, created a program he calls “Art for Heart” to bring artwork created by students in his school to senior citizens, nursing home residents and hospital patients in his community. Last summer, Patrick and his mother delivered lunch to senior citizens every week through the Meals on Wheels program. Each Friday, Patrick would include a card he had made to wish them a good weekend. “As the weeks passed, I noticed that they were keeping their weekly cards and displaying them in their homes,” he said. When school started back in the fall, Patrick had to quit delivering lunches, but he didn’t stop caring about the seniors he had met that summer and worrying about how isolated they were during the pandemic.
Then it occurred to Patrick how much art was produced by students in art classes at his school, and that most of it was discarded after it was graded. Realizing that something “as simple as a picture” can make a person feel connected to the community, Patrick took his idea to his art teacher and principal, and then began contacting nursing homes, a local hospital, and several monasteries. They overwhelmingly agreed that seasonal artwork from school children might lift their residents’ spirits. Then Patrick drafted a letter to students’ parents, explaining what he wanted to do and asking them to encourage their children to color pictures at home as well as to donate their classroom art. Patrick’s program has continued to grow, and has now created and donated more than 4,500 cards and pieces of artwork to patients in hospitals, nursing homes, monasteries and convents dealing with visitation restrictions due to COVID-19. He’s now working to expand “Art for Heart” by recruiting young artists from other schools and youth programs.