One way the Cleveland Clinic is bringing kids into the wellness equation? Art

If good health during childhood sets the stage for adulthood, the Cleveland Clinic has some ideas for getting children interested.

CEO Toby Cosgrove is keen on wellness initiatives, as demonstrated by the Clinic’s wellness program for employees and non-smoking hiring policy. The health system also reaches its hands into the community with several educational programs under its Office of Civic Education Initiatives.

It highlighted one arts-based program recently on its YouTube channel that caught my attention. The Explorers program sends medical professionals into classrooms in Ohio – either in person or virtually – to talk with K-8 students about health issues like diabetes, asthma, oral hygeine, exercise and nutrition.


Following the presentation, teachers lead a discussion reflecting on what was shared, and the students are tasked with interpreting the points that struck them most through art projects. They submit those art projects to be judged by a panel of art and medical professionals who award ribbons and small cash prizes. There’s also an online component that uses a social media context, a story line and interactivity to engage students, the office’s director of creative learning, Bryan Pflaum, says in the video.

Teachers say it’s a creative and less intimidating way to get kids learning about science and health early. Some of their artwork is displayed in a virtual exhibit on the Clinic’s website.

This is just one example of a hospital taking a “get them while they’re young” approach to wellness through the arts. There are many others — Kaiser Permanente’s Educational Theater is another highly regarded example.

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