This quarter’s featured organization is a sponsoring partner of an OMA site in Calgary. Art a la Carte, founded by Debbie Baylin, has been a supporter of the OMA program conducted by Kaitlin Segboer at the South Health Campus. We spoke with Debbie Baylin to learn more about Art a la Carte programs and its role in OMA.
Like many of us involved in OMA, Debbie did not start out as an artist. She began her journey as an educator and through her work with the Canadian Cancer Society she realized the importance of the arts; “I learned how important it was to see patients as whole people who hungered to reconnect with their lives and passions outside of the hospital. A memory of happier times and places brought moments of peace from the rigors of their treatments.”
Debbie founded Art a la Carte to bridge the arts and wellbeing. Debbie explained, “We began to wheel a cart of art onto the cancer ward and offered patients a choice of images to hang on their walls. The art had the power to take their minds to places they really wanted to be, creating a renewed sense of comfort, control and beauty.”
Since its inception 25 years ago, over 87,000 bedside visits have been made and prototypes of the program have been recreated across the country. A new program called “Create While You Wait” was created for those recovering from stroke or brain injuries to engage in hands-on, guided art making. Partnership with OMA widened their services to those living with dementia.
In 2017, Debbie was introduced to Kaitlin Segboer, a Recreational Therapist at South Health Campus, who had recently gone through OMA facilitator training. From here, a partnership was born. Art a la Carte would provide supplies and support, while Kaitlin and her team at South Health would facilitate the sessions for older adults.
About the partnership, Debbie states “OMA aligned perfectly with our mission to complement healing in medical institutions through visual and expressive art-making. It continues to be one of our most successful partnerships to date.” In 2018, Debbie went through OMA Facilitator training to better cement this partnership.