Writing lets you escape into your imagination. It makes anything possible, giving you a sense of control even when other aspects of your life seem scripted. And it has astonishing power to help us process our emotions and work through our pain.
We had those benefits and more in mind while planning Healthy Expressions, a series of creative writing workshops for patients, their caregivers, and the health care providers who serve them. Each workshop is tailored to accommodate the specific needs and abilities of various patient populations, using input and feedback from partner organizations who work with those populations and the clients themselves.
Our first pilot program is designed for people with ALS, developed in partnership with ALS in the Heartland. It is the opposite of most of our writing workshops, as it is:
- Delivered remotely, instead of in one room;
- Delivered individually, instead of in a group setting;
- Not on a fixed schedule, letting participants set their own pace;
- Patient-directed, providing writing prompts that participants are free to ignore, and;
- Completely private if the participant prefers to not share their writing with anyone, including the Teaching Artist.
This basic model is being modified and extended to patients with a variety of other conditions, including a pilot program working with cancer patients in partnerships with Nebraska Hematology-Oncology P.C. in Lincoln, NE.
How Does it Work?
The specific program model varies to accommodate the patient population we are working with, but Healthy Expressions programs are all offered:
- For an extended period of time so participants have the time and mentoring needed to revise and dig deeper into their work than the typical one-and-done writing workshop allows;
- Free of charge to participants, with program costs underwritten by corporate sponsors, individual donors, foundations, or other stakeholders;
- At sites convenient to the participants, sometimes in the clinics or hospitals where they receive their medical care;
- At times that accommodate the schedules of the participants, often in the evenings;
- To patients, home caregivers, and health care provider staff members whenever possible. Ideally working together in the same room to learn from one another’s experiences and perspectives.
How Can I Access It?
If you are a patient, put us in touch with your health care provider so we can discuss the program with them.
If you are not a patient, but feel someone you know, work with, or provide health care to could benefit from this program, please contact us. We would love to meet with you and discuss how the program can benefit you and your patients, friends, and loved ones who could use the sense of escape and self-empowerment that Healthy Expressions offers.
Giving Thanks to Our Funding Partners
We are grateful to OMNE Partners in Omaha and Dr. Mark Hutchins of Nebraska Hematology-Oncology, P.C. for generously funding our ALS and cancer patient pilot programs, respectively.