Our Mission

Arts For Life is dedicated to supporting pediatric patients and families through arts education and engagement.

By providing educational art programs, we enrich patients’ lives, nurture their minds and spirits, and encourage positive healthcare experiences for children and their families. 

Our History

Arts For Life began as a small project in 2001 when our founding director, Anna Littman, gave cameras, film, and journals to young cancer patients. Anna became a part of the community of patients at Brenner Children’s Hospital when her 11-year-old sister, Katie, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer. Anna spent many months in the hospital with Katie, and she witnessed firsthand the struggles and triumphs of the young patients around her. 

With a background in art and education, and a heart for service, Anna saw a need and began providing art activities to Katie and her neighbors in the hospital: first, one or two kids, then six or seven, then more. Patients and parents began to notice the positive effect of participating in art, and they asked for more. Fueled by Anna’s unwavering vision and hard work, Arts For Life was born. 

Over the next five years, Arts For Life expanded from Winston-Salem to Asheville, Charlotte, and Durham. Arts For Life started offering not just photography but all types of visual art lessons—painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking, and more—plus music and creative writing lessons, all at no cost to families.

In the almost two decades since its beginning, Arts For Life has grown from a staff of one to a team of sixteen, serving thousands of patients and families each year– more than 14,000 people in 2019.

Our Core Values

At Arts For Life, we value 

  • Creativity and believe that art is for everyone.
  • Learning and believe that arts engagement has the power to transform healthcare experiences.
  • Compassion and believe that meaningful connection promotes healing.
  • Collaboration and believe that partnerships benefit our patients, families, and communities.
  • Inclusion and believe that everyone is welcome at the art table
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