Monday 11 November, 2019

Murals on Mental Health: Pepsi supports art therapy at Bellevue

Pepsi Jamaica, though its Jamaica I Can campaign, partnered with the Bellevue Hospital on Windward Road in Kingston to paint three murals at the institution. Assisted by students from the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts.

Pepsi Jamaica, though its Jamaica I Can campaign, partnered with the Bellevue Hospital on Windward Road in Kingston to paint three murals at the institution. Assisted by students from the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts.

Many artists will tell you that they are most at ease when creating something.  

Cognizant of the therapeutic benefits of art, Pepsi Cola Jamaica, through its corporate social responsibility campaign “Jamaica I Can”, recently sponsored an art therapy session for patients at the Bellevue Hospital in Kingston. 

Pepsi partnered with the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts to help the patients channel their creative energy to develop artwork, which was then replicated into murals at the Windward Road-based health facility. 

This was the culmination of over two months of careful planning and collaboration between Pepsi, Edna Manley College and management of the hospital. 

Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Chris Tufton (right) paying keen attention as this patient of the Bellevue Hospital in Kingston carefully outlines a  mountain in the mural that he helped to design.

CEO of the hospital Latoya McFarlane noted that though the patients are accustomed to participating in art therapy sessions at the hospital, they were creatively and physically engaged in the “Jamaica I Can” initiative. 

“We had a number of patients who are a part of our art therapy programme that contributed to the development of the artwork for the mural. As we discussed their own experiences, the entire group was then asked to put their thoughts into art, whether it was a drawing, painting, etc,” McFarlane said. 

“The patients were excited to see that their voices were being heard and respected,” she added.

According to McFarlane, the exercise, pre and post mural, provided a well-needed breath of fresh air, as the process of collaboration included focus groups with patients and students.

“There are always groups that want to come in and help and in our over 150 years of operation, we have never refused any person or group that wants to positively engage our clients but at the same time the way they choose to do this is by way of a tour or the donation of supplies and even volunteering,” McFarlane said. “These are always appreciated and encouraged but this time around the bar has been raised."

McFarlane further said that the level of inclusion and respect that was given to her “clients”, as she refers to them affectionately, is something that was novel to both her and to them and sparked much enthusiasm among all involved. 

“Our clients were engaged from the first meeting to the last brush stroke on Sunday.”

Pepsi Cola Brand Manager Elizabeth Allen (1st right) is joined by (from Left) Occupational Therapy Director  Jhenell Bowen, Patient Services Director Stacy-Ann Lawman and CEO of the  Bellevue Hospital Latoya McFarlane for this shot during the painting of the murals at the institution.

The Bellevue Hospital CEO also commended the team from Edna Manley College for ensuring that the images on the murals looked exactly as the patients drew them.

“They ensured that the colours were what the clients wanted and they were right there teaching and showing them how to paint it. This was heartwarming to not only see but experience," McFarlane said.

With the focus of the Pepsi “Jamaica I Can” campaign being the upliftment and empowerment of all Jamaicans, the company ensured that beneficiaries of the programme were included. 

According to Pepsi Brand Manager Elizabeth Allen, the practice of excluding the beneficiaries of projects from the process, often done by corporate Jamaica, is one that needs to be eliminated.

“We, from the onset of our campaign, decided in addition to affecting the perception of mental health, we wanted to include the patients in any and all aspects possible for this project,” she said. 

Allen said Pepsi also sought to break the stigma of mental illness and highlight that the Jamaican culture is one of love and togetherness, which she said, “will, in fact, heal our own minds and further our communities.”

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