TIPP CITY — He wanted to put a smile on a kid’s face. Everything else grew from there.
Combining his passions for art and serving the community, Tippecanoe High School senior Logan Oskey created a program called Art with a Heart to bring a little joy to kids at Dayton Children’s Hospital.
Oskey and a group of other seniors go to Children’s about once a month equipped with art supplies and materials for projects like turkeys made out of leaves or painted wooden Valentine’s Day hearts.
Sometimes though, he’ll just sit down with a child and draw something that makes them happy.
Oskey, who received the Ohio Art Education Association’s regional Distinguished Citizen award for Art with a Heart, said that going on mission trips inspired him to do more in his own community.
“I think being on those mission trips and getting to interact with people, I realized I wanted to do something like that,” he said.
Over the summer, Oskey learned about a very sick little boy who was obsessed with Batman. At the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center’s art festival last summer, Oskey competed in the chalk art contest and decided to draw Batman with that little boy in mind.
“I did that as a way to put a smile on his face and I thought that would be the end of the story,” he said. But Oskey found out later that his Batman chalk art had had the intended effect: the artwork cheered the boy up on a rough day. “I think that hit me really hard that my artwork had that effect on him. And I think from there the wheels started turning, like how do I take my art and interact with kids a little bit more.”
So Oskey looked into programs at Dayton Children’s and found out that they didn’t offer anything like he had in mind.
Getting the hospital to agree to an art program was easy and it wasn’t difficult to get the high school on board either, Oskey said. Once he started telling others about the program, support followed, including donations of supplies.
“Everything was very open arms, everybody was very excited,” he said.
So many students want to help out, that Oskey has to keep a schedule.
“We can’t bring a ton of people because it’s a little overwhelming,” he said. “So we’ve got people on this list wanting to go that haven’t gone yet. It’s a really good feeling have too many people, rather than not enough.”
So far the program is made up of seniors and Oskey praised his classmates for getting involved, adding that many were looking for opportunities to do some good in the community.
One of the things that Oskey said sticks out to him the most from his time spent with kids in the hospital, is how much the younger children look up to the older teenagers.
“The kids look up to us,” he said. “We’re not necessarily adults, we’re not necessarily their age… It’s a change of pace from their parents and their siblings, nurses and doctors. We’re just buddies, essentially.”
Oskey said the program benefits the student volunteers too.
“It opens up their hearts. It’s amazing going there and seeing the connection,” he said. “That’s what I started the program for, almost as a mentorship or just to build relationships. Art’s just kind of the medium for that.”
His favorite moment with the program so far happened during the group’s November visit. A nurse asked if he could take some art supplies down to a patient’s room, since the little boy couldn’t get out of bed.
“This was my first time going to one of the rooms, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. And experiences like that take you out of your comfort zone. I went in there and there’s this ginormous bed with a tiny little boy sitting at the top of it and he’s very quiet,” he said. “We got talking a little bit more and I found out that his favorite superhero was also Batman. So I said, ‘Well, let me go and get some markers and I’ll come back and I’ll draw Batman with you.’ Before I could get back, he was out of his bed, holding on to his IV rack, coming down to the room. His mom later told me that was the first time he had talked or walked since he had been there.
“That really hit me hard.”
The most important thing, Oskey said, is “making sure those kids feel loved.” But he thinks Art with a Heart can help students grow stronger relationships with each other.
“The more people we get in on it, I think we’ll be learning from each other. Kind of separate those barriers we have sometimes between freshman and seniors and middle schoolers,” he said.
Oskey will be headed to the University of Cincinnati this fall, where he is looking forward to studying fine arts at the College of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning. He’s interested in focusing on design, maybe for brands like Nike someday, but is interested in film making as well.
Though he’ll be graduating in just a few months, Oskey is working to ensure that the program continues. He hopes bringing in students from other grades, possibly including the middle school, will help the program grow. He also hopes to start some after-school art programs at the local library.
“It’s important to me that this lives on after I’m gone,” he said. “It’s bigger than me and the other seniors.”
There is even the possibility for expanding the program even further in the future. After all, he pointed out, Cincinnati has a children’s hospital too.
“I think there’s just so many possibilities right now.”
Reach Cecilia Fox at cfox@troyda