Journeys to Health: Phase Two, 2011-2012

Journeys to Health: Phase Two, 2011-2012

The second phase of the Journeys to Health project at The Four Villages Community Health Centre explores the places, people and activities that have contributed to our sense of health. This project is part of the Ontario Arts Council’s new initiative to support artist residencies within the healthcare sector.

Artists Emmy Pantin and Jennifer LaFontaine collaborated with health centre staff to identify how people could share their resilience and strengths in the face of a myriad of health care challenges through art and storytelling.  There are three main artistic components to this year’s project: digital stories, photography and knitting.


The photo exhibit, Doors Open, was created by Getting on with Life, a mental health support group at Four Villages.  The title photograph is both an invitation for people with mental health issues to break their isolation and actively participate in the world around them, as well as a call to action to create communities that are open and supportive of everyone.  The collection of photographs represent how small things can positively impact our journey to health- sunlight on small flowers, artistic details in graffiti, laughter, blue sky, and friendship.

This knitted map and tree were created by a group of knitters at Four Villages who were exploring themes of belonging and community.  The map represents the catchment area of Four Villages and  highlights significant geographical markers including High Park to the south, the railway tracks to the north, and the Humber River to the west.  The two Four Villages sites located on the map are surrounded by places that evoke connection, safety, comfort, health and well-being.  The houses on the map contain stories of people in the community, talking about places that make them feel safe and secure, how they find connection with others, and what they hope for in their future.

Held in an envelope, each letter is spoken by the storyteller.  The listener must bring the envelope close to their ear in order to hear each story, creating an intimacy between teller and listener.  Some of the stories were shared by clients of Four Villages during home visits.  Imagine you are in their home while they share about the many ways they find strength and work to overcome the health challenges in their lives.  Some of the stories were shared by the knitting group.  Listen to them share how their sense of community developed as they knitted the map together.  Some of the stories were shared by the High Park walking group.  The knitted tree contains their stories of how nature and friendship help them heal and grow.

staff and artists

Artists and Four Villages staff
L-R Back Row: Michelle, Jennifer, Emmy
Front Row: Rupida, Sandra, Chantal, Jennifer

The digital stories created in this collection were from three groups- youth from Swansea Mews, women who have experienced marginal housing, and community health centre staff from across Toronto.  The stories represent a diversity of perspectives.  They share about a range of life experiences such as violence, poverty, isolation and fear of failure, as well as the ways they have overcome these and continue to dream.  As a collection, they create a picture of what individuals and communities need to feel healthy and strong.


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