By Dawn Glasco, Manager of Engagement and Social Innovation, Sisters of Charity Foundation
Central Opportunities for Purposeful Engagement (C.O.P.E) is a summer leadership camp for youth to train future peer leaders in the Central community of Cleveland. Through C.O.P.E, Central Promise Ambassadors provide outlets for adults and youth to develop peer leadership skills and express, process, and overcome the effects of prolonged isolation, depression, and sense of hopelessness from the COVID-19 pandemic. It launched in May with an ioby fundraising campaign.
On August 7, C.O.P.E hosted an art exhibit to showcase projects developed over the summer and a health walk to continue raising community awareness about health and wellness.
Art exhibits showcased “Hands Across Central” and “Becoming Unmasked,” which include 50 art pieces created by a multi-disciplinary group of donors, residents, and health care professionals. The pieces illustrate a unified vision of health in Central after the pandemic. The health walk was led by East Technical High School students from the garden to Tri-C and back. All events were held at East 39th Street Community Garden (East 39th Street and Community College Avenue) and included health screenings and information sessions with St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, free food and a produce giveaway.
The intergenerational community garden on East 39th Street is stewarded by Promise Ambassador Andrea Johnson, and in partnership with CIPTT, Inc., which is Johnson’s nonprofit organization that engages young people in STEM. Johnson recently produced a video about summer C.O.P.E activities in the garden: https://vimeo.com/575618666/825280055c
Johnson says, “We want to get folks outdoors, foster collaboration, grow produce, have fun, and create purposeful public art.” The garden has grown and distributed over 150 pounds of free produce, along with education on how produce can help seniors manage chronic illness. Last year, a permanent art display was added to use art as a therapeutic tool, which promotes healthy living in Central and attracts residents to the garden. Since the onset of COVID-19, many of the art projects target older high school students and recent graduates who are transitioning to their next stage of life.
ABOUT THE ART EXHIBITS:
HANDS ACROSS CENTRAL
Hands Across Central celebrates Central’s multicultural, interdisciplinary, and intergenerational stakeholders seeking to transform the community to its highest potential. The concept is to use hand word art to elevate the diverse voices of Central, their perception of Central, and the role they play in their space.
Becoming Unmasked is a creative art project where participants use face masks to create an artistic expression around the theme of who they are and who they want to be in the new normal, post-pandemic time. Each participant will design and create a unique face mask (non-wearable) with distinctive colors, textures, symbols, and embellishments, using both the outside and inside to create 3-Dimensional effects.