Monday, March 5, 2001
program links sick children
Delhi News Bureau
ARKVILLE — An Arkville mother and a Scottish artist have joined
forces to launch "Pen Pals Across the Water," a program designed to
forge links between chronically ill children.
Children on both sides of the Atlantic will share thoughts with
newfound pen pals about what it's like to be sick and know that the
children receiving the letters will understand.
Diana Rose-Miller, 65, began painting more than 25 years ago. She
said her paintings reflect moods, feelings and movements. The
swirling works reflect the seasons, skies, seas and winds.
Rose-Miller said she contracted tuberculosis when she was 4 years
old. She was sent from her home in the Scottish highlands to a
hospital in Edinburgh, where she was isolated from her family.
"I was alone and frightened," Rose-Miller said. "But I will never
forget the beautiful ceiling in the hospital. It was blue with
silver stars. Most people don't concentrate on ceilings, but I loved
it and it made me calm."
Rose-Miller decided to paint an extremely colorful picture for
the children's ward in the hospital where she spent so much time as
a child. She said she hoped the painting would soothe them, in the
same way the ceiling made her feel better.
"Children are like little hurricanes, always moving and busy,"
Rose-Miller said. "So I did a hurricane picture, with a lot of
movement and color."
The painting was so well received by the children in the hospital
that Rose-Miller began a series called the Hurricane Paintings and
gave them all children's names. Now there are 12 "hurricanes"
hanging in hospitals throughout England, Wales, Ireland and
Hurricane Harvey is in Aberdeen, Hannah in Dundee, Flora in
Edinburgh, Freddie in Glasgow, Rupert in Newcastle, Stardust Charlie
in Manchester, Harriet in Liverpool, Hector in Belfast, Egbert in
Cardiff, Hamish in Birmingham, Bertie in London and Herbert and the
Little Hurricanes are in Bristol.
Rose-Miller decided to produce 50 limited-edition prints of each
painting to be sold to raise money for medical research to help
Annmarie and Gene Rosa met Rose-Miller while traveling in
Scotland. They purchased a print of Hurricane Rupert for their
daughter, Rachel, who has Lyme disease and mercury poisoning.
Rose-Miller said Rachel wrote to her and told her she loved the
painting, that she could feel the wind blowing and that it was a
warm wind, not a cold wind.
Another memory of being ill as a child came to Rose-Miller. She
remembered how much letters from family and friends meant to her
while she was hospitalized.
"It was like a little light went off," said Annmarie Rosa. "The
idea of using the paintings to allow sick children to help each
other through letters and drawings."
The paintings were reproduced as postcards, with one of each
print in a packet. Each child participating in "Pen Pals Across the
Water" has a packet of postcards.
"We encourage the children to start the letter by describing how
one of the paintings makes them feel," Rose-Miller said. "The first
paragraph might say that the green swirl in Rupert reminds them of
trees swaying in the wind. The child receiving the letter can look
at their copy of the painting, and there is a link."
"We don't know what it's like to be the sick kid, always on the
outside and isolated," Annmarie Rosa said. "But other ill children
Rose-Miller linked Rachel with several other ill children across
the ocean. The results were so positive, the decision was made to
give other children the opportunity to support each other with
Rose-Miller traveled to New York on Saturday to donate another
painting to a U.S. hospital. She plans to place seven paintings in
the United States and three each in South Africa, Australia, New
Zealand and Canada.
"We are beginning with English-speaking countries first, but we
hope it will spread worldwide eventually," she said.
For more information about participation in the program, call
Annmarie Rosa at (845) 586-2664.