If you haven’t heard about the Walking Gallery of Healthcare, let me include you in the circle, because it’s pretty great stuff. The Walking Gallery was created by artist and activist Regina Holliday as a way to bring patient stories, quite literally, intohealthcare meetings and conferences. The inspiration for the Walking Gallery came from Regina’s own experiences struggling to get health records for her husband, Fred, during the final year of his life. Through her experiences, Regina recognized that patients may feel traumatized, stressed, or otherwise harmed by the health care system. She began to seek out patient stories, and transform those stories into powerful paintings.
What makes the Walking Gallery special is that every painting in the gallery is done on a blazer, lab coat or business jacket–the uniforms of health care & conference settings. So, the Gallery is fully mobile, and carries patient stories with each walker.
I am honored to have my own Walking Gallery jacket. My jacket is called “Grief,” and it’s a powerful depiction of someone who is grieving being held. I am so proud to wear this jacket–it is a lovely portrayal of what therapy can be.
But I’m not just walking because the jacket is beautiful. I’m walking because, ultimately, I believe in the value of our stories. Stories are the thread that weave through each therapy relationship. Stories have the power to heal us, or the power to keep us bound into old patterns. I have commented before on my concern about a healthcare system that forces a choice between physical health and mental health. I am walking because I think that patient stories need to be at the center of how we envision a better health care system.
I am walking in honor of every client that has trusted me with their story. I am walking in honor of every client who has been courageous enough to learn that they can change the course of their story. I am walking for all of the stories that haven’t found a safe space to be told. I am walking for my patient story. And yours.
The Walking Gallery is coming to Kansas City. Tonight! I’ll be joining other members of the Walking Gallery as we gather downtown and then take the Gallery to the Plaza Art Festival. If you’re local, I hope we see you. We’ll be on the Plaza by 8:30 or so. If you are intrigued by the idea of the Gallery and want to participate in honoring patient voices, you can also get a last-minute ticket to the Partnership With Patients Summit this weekend at the Cerner campus in North Kansas City. My jacket and I will be there.
So, if you have a story that hasn’t been told yet, I hope you know that I am holding you and your story in my mind as I walk tonight. Feel free to contact me if you need to share your story, or tell us a bit in the comments.
Image Credit: All images by Regina Holliday