TORONTO — Canadian Friends of Herzog Hospital is trying a new way to raise awareness and funds for their cause. The organization hired 13 interns this summer, many of them students, to work together on developing and implementing the latest awareness campaign: The Windows to the World children’s art competition.
The competition has Jewish and non-Jewish children from all over Canada submitting their artwork. The top 25 pieces, as judged by an independent panel, will be hung in the new children’s respiratory unit of Herzog Hospital in Jerusalem and displayed at a gallery in Toronto.
“It’s really Canadian kids helping kids,” said Rhonda Wolfond, the project development director for the initiative. This is the first time Canadian Friends of Herzog Hospital has run an art competition, and so far, they have more than 8,000 participants signed up. The competition deadline is not until the end of November, and many more kids are expected to enter.
“Everyone wants to participate, so we’ve had to expand and grow,” said Jenna Himelfarb, 21, the student intern who has been spearheading the project since May.
She has helped put together the competition rules and recruit sponsors and participants. It has been a challenging experience, she said, but it has also been educational and rewarding. “I’ve learned how to work independently, how to be a self-starter,” Himelfarb said.
Another student project intern, Ryan Peters, 20, feels that the learning experience of putting together the Windows to the World competition has been invaluable. He said it has reaffirmed his belief in “the power of informal education,” as he has been learning on the job.
Peters has spent much of his internship creating a video explaining the competition’s rules and goals to show in participating schools, as well as using social media to spread the word.
“They are under tremendous pressure and [they] deal with it incredibly,” Lorne Saltzman, the executive director of Canadian Friends of Herzog Hospital, said of the young interns.
Himelfarb explained that the children who participate in the competition are asked to make a drawing or painting of one of three topics: “a dazzling dream,” “a beautiful place” or “a memorable moment.” They are also asked to donate a dollar to the organization along with their submission, but participants won’t be denied entry if they are unable to do so.
Canadian Friends of Herzog Hospital has partnered with Busatti Home Toronto, a company that produces hand-crafted linens and fabrics, and the Woodbridge Art School, in order to provide prizes for the competition winners, including a year of art lessons. Artworks that aren’t chosen as the top 25 still have a chance to be displayed on a poster that will be distributed across Canada, as well as at a gala in March, where the finalists will be announced.
“I think it’s a really special project,” Himelfarb said, adding that it will allow children in Canada to connect with the children in the Herzog Hospital respiratory unit and to support them.
For Peters, that connection among young people is extremely important, as it often moves them to take action. “This is an awareness project and it’s also a youth project, and I think the two are really powerful when you put them together.”
For more information on the Windows to the World competition, please visit www.herzoghospital.ca.