Looking for a more creative way to get the conversation started? In the Comox Valley, the heARTful Expressions project offers an innovative approach to advance care planning – encouraging community members to create visual art, music, videos, poetry and other artistic works that explore the concept of end-of-life conversations in a whole new way.

The heARTful Expressions project was created in 2013 by the Comox Valley Advance Care Planning Committee, a group supported by Comox Valley Hospice Society that wanted to recognize people’s individual creativity as a beneficial avenue for communication. The Comox Valley is a unique region that is well known for its rich array of artistry and creativity, including artists who work in many mediums. Community members were invited to submit works of art to the project as a way to speak from the heART and to explore their beliefs, values and wishes about advance care planning.

In 2013, the Comox Valley community got a sneak preview of that creativity from local playwright and drama therapist, Dandelion, who wrote a play called ‘Are You Listening to Me, A whimsical fantasy of the final journey from here to there’. The play premiered to a full house at the Courtenay Little Theatre on April 16 – National Advance Care Planning Day. The play has since been performed numerous times for audiences on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, and a video of the play will be featured as part of the Valley’s 2014 National Advance Care Planning Day activities.

This year, several works of art will be shared at a public Open House on April 16th as part of the heARTful Expressions project, including theatre, written verse, creative writing, painting, photography, rock art, paverpol, glass works, stained glass, dance, songwriting, music and doll making. The collection, which has a common theme of having one’s voice heard from the heart, demonstrates the breadth and depth of creativity of the participating artists, and their interpretation of ‘having the talk about advance care planning’. The public exhibit is also intended to encourage others in the community to start or continue the conversation about advance care planning with their loved ones using a variety of mediums.

Along with the Open House and public exhibit, the Comox Valley Advance Care Planning Committee, in partnership with Berwick Comox Valley, is hosting an Educational Open House entitled ‘Is Advance Care Planning on Your Bucket List?’ This Open House will feature videos, resources and conversations about advance care planning as well as an evening reception and art exhibit with works from over 20 artists. The Hospice Society is also partnering with the Courtenay Little Theatre to promote the spring production of “On Golden Pond”, April 10-17th, 2014.