Silver Knight Award winner brings hope to parents at Miami Children's Hospital through her drawings

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Charcoal illustrations of babies by high school visual arts student Kaley SchwartzVisual arts student Kaley Schwartz drawing in hospital room

Miami – Kaley Schwartz has become the eighth student from New World School of the Arts (NWSA) high school to receive the prestigious Silver Knight Award. The Miami-Dade winner in the Art category, Kaley’s project entailed painting portraits of children in the Cardiac Unit of Miami Children’s Hospital and donating them to the parents. “By capturing the innocence and beauty of a child in a portrait without the heartache of medical tubes and wires, I feel I am giving the families hope and peace,” said Schwartz.
To date, Kaley has gifted more than 50 framed portraits and plans to keep her project alive as a way of offering a respite to parents with children in the Intensive Care Unit. “When I present the parents with the portraits after being framed, I always get different emotions. Some parents are very quiet, yet appreciative while others cry and thank me so much.”
Inspired by her sister, who underwent open-heart surgery as a child, Kaley remembers“the tension and the hushed conversations between [her] parents.” She highlights the fears and difficult moments that parents and family members endure during a life-changing situation such as her sister’s, and notes that she “realized how lucky [her] family was to have a successful outcome.” Nonetheless, she notes, “I also learned that not everyone is as lucky.”
Her project was not only a conceived as a way to cope with the difficult life situation she endured at a young age – but it has also become a community-centered project that touches the lives of parents facing the uncertainty and hopelessness of caring for a sick child in the hospital. “I recognized a need that no one else recognized, not even the intended recipients,” said the young artist. “I met with the child life department of MiamiChildren’s Hospital and presented my idea to become not only a volunteer for the hospital, but to be the first portrait artist in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit,” explained Kaley.
“As many of these patients are admitted as newborns to our hospital, these portrait pictures are often one of the first artistic pictures families are able to have of their infant,” commented Regine Duret-Msimanga, Certified Child Life Specialist at Miami children’s Hospital. “This is a very unique gift she provides for our families.”
Not all experiences were pleasant for Kaley throughout this process – facing challenges not only helped her validate her commitment to this cause, but also allowed her to delve into alternative projects at the hospital. “The most serious challenge was when I witnessed parents who had to deal with the loss of their child in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. Some of these children were the ones I drew portraits of previously.” Kaley also mentioned that this project helped her “acquire a sense of accomplishment and purpose through [her] interactions with the patients, parents and staff at Miami Children’sHospital.”
When asked about Kaley, Pamela Cabarcos, Guidance Counselor at NWSA explains that she is “organized, independent, compassionate, and diligent. She has been a motivated student and an exceptional visual artist in a very competitive and stressful environment.” Among other community service projects, Kaley curated and organized the gallery opening reception for Circulatory: Where Art and Altruism Connect, to benefit Miami Children’s Hospital. The reception and sale of artwork yielded more $1,500, which she donated to the hospital.
She also dedicated significant time to painting a mural at this hospital’s Outpatient Center; participated in Dancing with DisABILITIES at Jill Mallory Studio of Dance; and was a teacher helper during workweek at Temple Beth AmDay School. At New World School of the Arts, Kaley held a solid 5.9 GPA and received three Honorable Mention Scholastic Art Awards as well as an Honorable Mention in the South Florida Science and Engineering Fair. She was also the vice-president of the Science Honor Society and the National Art Honor Society. Kaley will be attending Florida State University in the fall and plans to double major in Anthropology and Art History. Ultimately, her goal is to become a curator.
This is the eighth Silver Knight Award presented to students at New World School of the Arts and the fourth in the Art category. The other awards were presented in the areas of Drama, Science and Music. According to the Silver Knight Awards InfoBrochure, to be nominated in the Art category, the “Service can be provided through creative ability in drawing, painting, sculpture, fabrics, photography, graphic design or any other medium in the visual arts. Service includes theteaching, inspiration or encouragement of others through the use of visual arts.”
The distinguished history of the New World School of the Arts began in 1984 when the Florida State Legislature established the institution to provide artistically talented high school and college students the means to achieve both an academic education and artistic training. In September 1986, NWSA opened its doors to students in grades ten through twelve. NWSA’s audition-based programs are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art, Dance, Music and Theater. NWSA offers the high school diploma as well as a four-year BFA or BM college degree.
New World School of the Arts was created by the Florida Legislature as a center of excellence in the performing and visual arts. It is an educational partnership between Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Miami Dade College and the University of Florida.
For information about New World School of the Arts, please call at 305-237-3135 or visit               
In its 56th year, The Miami Herald / ElNuevo Herald Silver Knight Awards is one of the nation’s most highly regarded student awards programs. The purpose of this Awards program is to recognizeoutstanding students who have not only maintained good grades but have alsounselfishly applied their special knowledge and talents to contribute significant service to their schools and communities. The Silver Knight Awards program was instituted at The Miami Herald in 1959 by John S. Knight, past publisher of The Miami Herald, founder and editor emeritus of Knight-RidderNewspapers and 1968 Pulitzer Prize winner.