For the College of Health and Human Services Art of Life Honors group, their project focusing on the Art of Life Healing Garden was a personal one. In some way, each of the five students in the group have been touched by cancer.

“We were grateful for the opportunity to work with the Art of Life Foundation because this is a topic so close to each of our hearts,” said Speech-Language Pathology senior, Theresa Gidney.

The honors group collaborated with the Art of Life organization on a one-day project meant to help meet the physical, psychological and emotional needs of cancer patients and their families in the Fresno area.


The project took place at the Art of Life Healing Garden in Woodward Park, which was developed two years ago to serve as a place of healing and hope for those with cancer or who’ve been effected by it. Their group implemented four activities, each focusing on healing through art or wellness, for the 25 individuals that participated.


The first activity involved making sun catchers in the shape of a heart or cancer ribbon, with the colors representing different types of cancer. Another activity included a 30-minute yoga meditation, taught by a local yoga instructor. The third activity allowed participants to walk through the ribbon trail, which created a perfect space for conversation and reflection. The final activity was simply providing informational pamphlets from local organizations that provide support to cancer patients and their families.


 “Our goal when we formed our idea for the project was to help meet the needs of not only cancer patients, but their families as well,” said Gidney. “In that light, we planned an event that had activities that could be enjoyed by people from any age group.  We wanted to provide a day of fun that also focused on providing the emotional and physical resources needed.”

In a follow-up survey, participants indicated the activities were helpful and that they’d be interested in participating in future art and wellness-based events at the garden.

Group members are L to R: Hailey Stinecipher (Kinesiology), Daisy Cruz-Maya (Social Work),  Kelli Lowe (Kinesiology), Theresa Gidney (Speech-Language Pathology) and Megan Calabrese (Nursing).

The team of honors students consisted of a variety of majors within the college – each of whom offered a unique perspective toward the project. In conclusion, Gidney said that being a part of Honors Program was an amazing learning experience.


“I learned valuable lessons both in regards to my formal education and for my future career. The interdisciplinary focus brought so much strength to our team and we have all been grateful for the experiences we take away from this program!”

Learn more about the Honors Program in Collaborative Leadership by visiting the link.