Community Poem – The Rhode Island Public Health Association Public Health Summit 2023

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The Rhode Island Arts and Health Partnership (RISCA and RIDOH) presented at the inaugural RI Public Health Association Public Health Summit on April 19, 2023, alongside artists and health professionals working in the field integrating arts to promote individual and community health and well-being.

This 2-day conference showcased innovative approaches in public health and included speakers with a focus on health equity and public health. The conference was open to healthcare and human services clinicians and providers, community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, patients, health plans, researchers, public health officials, students and anyone interested in health equity and public health.

As part of our Arts and Health break-out session, co-presenters, Wendy Grossman invited all of our session attendees to co-create a community poem on wellness. Everyone was given the same prompt: My wellness feels like…. and asked to finish the line. Wendy collected the cards and created a poem from the submissions. She read the poem to the group before we closed our session.

(contributors: Amanda, Anisa, Deep, Denise, Eric, Karen, Kelsey, Kenya, Laura, William and 14 other Anonymous poets)

My Wellness Feels Like

My wellness feels like
a great day       a summer day
sometimes like a cold winter day that turns into a winter night
my wellness feels like the calm of the ocean on somedays
but also the crashing of the waves
my wellness feels like the peace and tranquility
and stillness after a rainstorm
feels like finding the perfect song that matches how I feel
my wellness feels like my baby kicking me
and reminding me he is there
my wellness feels like a breath of fresh air
like playing the right chord on my guitar
my wellness feels like sipping hot Guatemalan coffee (café Bombon)
at or around the PVD pedestrian bridge on a sunny day
feels like hanging outside, after family lunch,
blowing bubbles with my grown nephews
my wellness feels like the blooming cherry blossoms outside of the library
where I’m curled up by a huge window with my favorite book
and a steaming cup of coffee
my wellness feels like a healthy family around me and time to enjoy them
a positive sense of physical and mental well-being
my strength pushing me forward each day!
my wellness feels like contentment
like an exciting opportunity for self-care
my wellness feels like a hyacinth trying to keep itself up
sunshine beating down on my face
a warm summer sunny day enjoying all aspects of nature
and the wonder of all things
my wellness feels like selfcare, is surfing and music
the perfect combination of calm and energy
a balancing act held in equipoise, delicate but durable
my wellness feels like happiness
like a well-tuned cello
my wellness feels like the sound of my toddler’s snores and quietness of the night
I am finally able to hear myself think before dozing off to sleep
my wellness feels like understanding, acceptance,
needs that are easily accessed, harmony, peace, pain reduction,
community resources used to assist all, a universal love for all living things,
sharing of experiences to be known, to be heard and help others be heard,
to create better understanding and connectedness
my wellness feels like a cloudy night, waiting for the moon to come out!


More info on the session:

Break out Session: The impact of Arts and Health on individual and community health and well-being.

Co-presenters included Anisa Raoof, Arts and Health Grants Program Manager, RISCA and Steven Boudreau, Director, Office of Workforce Development and Employee Engagement, RIDOH along with:

Melody Gamba is a dance artist, educator, licensed mental health counselor, and board-certified dance/movement psychotherapist. She has collaborated with organizations to explore building connection and community through arts and was the 2022 Arts and Health Artist in Residence in partnership with RIDOH, RISCA, and Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS). 

Wendy Grossman is an Activities Therapist and Coordinator of the Healing Arts Program at Butler Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in Providence. Also, a writer, Wendy has over twenty-five years’ experience in utilizing the arts as a tool of engagement to promote individual and collective well-being in a variety of communities including adults experiencing homelessness, adults with mental illness, adults with physical and developmental disabilities, adults in addiction recovery, and with elder adults and youth.

Rachel Balaban is a Rhode Island teaching artist and movement educator. She is the regional coordinator for Dance for PD, and the founder of Dance for All People (DAPpers []), a multigenerational dance program designed for people with movement challenges and aging bodies. Rachel leads movement workshops for schools, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities, in addition to her extensive work in academia where she is an Associate Teacher at the Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University educating future doctors on the importance of dance for health. She is committed to helping people access their vitality and health through using their own bodies and to make dance accessible to all populations.

Nicole O’Malley is an Assistant Professor and founding director of URI’s Music Therapy program and founding Executive Director of Hands in Harmony, a local 501c3 nonprofit that oversees music therapy programming throughout RI.