paula cloak of protection

 Cloak of Protection

The photograph above is Rachel’s cloak of protection.  The pieces are made by family and loved ones who stitched a landscape of color and memory that provides a comforting reminder that care and love exists in Rachel’s life, with cloth as a visual testimony of family and social context for  the cloak’s contributors.

The photo is here because “The Cloak of Protection” is an art ritual created in the United States. First created by Louise Todd Cope, a fiber artist, the cloak of protection has been duplicated and ritualized with patients whose loved ones wish to convey an essential message of love, as well as to allow the person who is ill to participate in the making of their cloak of protection. This is a a process that can be used within palliative care, as well as oncology patients and other groups that can be touched with a message of love and memory. The first image is a friend who participated in the making of her cloak of protection. Pieces of her mother and father’s clothing, as well as her grandmother’s unfinished quilts, became the landscape of color that make up the cloak of protection.  It is a practice of weaving a community of people who care for another through the medium of cloth.  Cloth and textiles have been narratives of culture and history throughout time. Cloth, as an art medium, conveys the markers of time and culture through the imagery and woven structure that carries inexplicable messages of marking off, and announcing and celebrating life through the lens of culture.


 Social Determinants of Health

One of the measures in Healthy People 2020 report identifies Social Determinants of Health as being a key factor in determining Health.  The conditions of Social Determinants are identified as the environment in which one is born and where one lives, works and plays. One of the examples of social determinants is culture. In a commissioned paper for the Institute of Medicine, “Culture as a Social Determinant of Health: Examples from Native Communities,” James Lamouche addresses the focus of biomedicine’s  disease, progression and treatment model  with the role of culture in health promotion and disease prevention in Native American communities. (Lamouche, 2012).

Lamouche (2012), sheds light on the medical materialist approach being limited in the mechanistic means for delivering a cure. He states, (2012) “Symptoms are “fixed” with a specific treatment or cure without, in many cases, dealing with the individual as a whole or the underlying causes for those symptoms.” (p. 3).  The question that I propose for discussion is: How can the arts bridge the historical richness of a culture’s belonging to the world through ritual, dance, song, painting and poetry, for the purposes of health promotion and disease prevention?

Secondly, how can creative solutions for arts in healthcare practices, address cultural differences and bridge disparities between biomedicine and cultural identity? What contemporary arts in healthcare programs address issues surrounding Social Determinants of Health relevant to Cultural disparities?


Social Determinants of HealthNew. (n.d.). Social Determinants of Health. Retrieved January 20, 2014, from

James knibb-Lamouche,  (Nov. 4th, 2012). Culture as a Social Determinant of Health: Examples from Native Communities.  Retrieved from


 Cultural Identity

There are numerous places in which cultures are nested within geographical areas that define their cultural identity. This extends to the land where one lives, an institution or environment within which one works, or  a country or continent that one lives “ The social determinants of health are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age. These circumstances are shaped by the distribution of money, power and resources at global, national and local levels.”


There are  thirteen case studies contained in this publication. Each case study is embedded in a different country, within  a different context.

Youth for youth—a model for youth suicide prevention, (Sinclair, 2011, p. 26,) is a successful study which empowers indigenous teen aged youth in Manitoba, Canada to take leadership in assessing and implementing suicide prevention methods within the context of cultural traditions.

The  suicide rate for First Nations people aged 10–25 years is as much as eight times higher than that of non-First Nations youth (Health Canada, 2002). Certain social determinants for health are missing from the First Nation’s people. “The children are forbidden to look or act like a First Nations person, which includes speaking First Nations languages, dressing in First Nations clothes, eating First Nations foods, and practicing First Nations spiritual beliefs.” (Sinclair, 2011, p. 26) Because Culture is one of the components of a social determinant of health, the  separation of children from their families and communities has had a devastating, long-lasting effect on the First Nations people.

Robert Wood’s Pioneering Idea that Health is Affected by our Social



Robert Wood has presented social networks as a place that is affecting Health and ways to manage chronic illness on social network sites.
Daniel Zoughbie, PhD, MSc, of Microclinic International, sees social networks as a means of delivering important health information over networks where small groups of people are sharing information about health and health topics. Wood points to the power of family and friends  to impart important information in close knit circles where communication is effective. Issues such as diabetes and obesity are behavioral issues wherein  social capital can address change in effective and meaningful ways.


Who’s Helping Our Wounded Vets?

PBS article and video

Week of 1.22.10

  1. 1 in 5 American soldiers returning from Aphganistan, have some type of traumatic brain injury
  2. Family members are affected by the need for sometimes, around the clock care for their loved ones. Legislation is pending over the support for a family member to be paid for  care at home. The story reflects a troubling result of the residual effect  of traumatic brain injury on young men, as well as their wives and children and extended families. The care is often 24 hours around the clock, with no financial support from the government to cover such care. The story is focused on two wives of soldiers who returned from Aphganistan after experiencing traumatic brain injury.
  3. Both wives of these soldiers report the terrifying feeling of being the sole provider of care for their husbands. An additional story tells of a wife and mother who, with her husband’s family, has taken on the care of her husband. The family sold their home, and now share a living space with the daughter-in-law and grandson, because of their diminishing financial situation resulting from the support for their Son.
  4. The story is compelling and frightening from the perspective that we, as a country, would allow the care of these vets to fall on the shoulders of their family members.

Ways the arts offer support


Save our Heros Music Program

Healing Veterans With Music

The program is called, “Healing Our Heroes.”

“The program began with Joel Breitkopf who suggested that music therapy be offered to veterans. The conservancy collected enough funds to provide scholarships for eight veterans. The program is very popular, and now, there is not enough room for all of the Veterans who wish to participate.

“Dr. Noelle Berger, counseling psychologist at the VA Medical Center found that music helped veterans with traumatic brain injury (TBI) to improve their memory and attention, and help them feel more relaxed.”

“Eventually, we’ll have a veterans band or orchestra,” Berger said.”$par%7d%7d