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Niles students learn about cancer by making art

Teachers of a Niles New Tech class are thinking outside the box to teach students about cancer.

Through making art the instructors of the school’s BioArt class say they are teaching students about the science behind the disease and the emotional impact.

BioArt teachers Matt Pagano and Courtney Dwyer gave their students a unique assignment:  interview someone who has been touched by cancer and create an art mural inspired by their emotions.

"A lot of what we do in BioArt is study scientific concepts and then we express them with art or we demonstrate our knowledge of them with art or through art,” said Pagano.

For freshman Ross Lawrence, the assignment came at a critical time.

"My aunt, she just got cancer. So, it came at a time where I could show emotionally what was going on,” said Lawrence.

Lawrence says his aunt found emotional healing through her faith and now he is finding it through art.

His work is one of 130 students that is displayed in the Niles District Library as part of a silent auction to raise money for the Brian Parker Foundation, a local non-profit that supports cancer research.

Pagano and Dwyer say understanding the emotions of a diagnosis is just as important as the biology, but those emotions can’t always be found in conventional teaching techniques.

"Art can really have a large impact on people and it can express emotion which is an important thing,” said Dwyer.

By focusing on the emotional impact, freshman Jena Garett says the material is easier to understand and the lessons become unforgettable.

"It was an amazing experience. I’m so glad that I could do something like that, it’s amazing,” said Garett.

If you would like to donate to the Brian Parker Foundation, click here.

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