By Hanna Marcus, The Gainesville Sun
October 27, 2014


In the south tower lobby of UF Health Shands Cancer Hospital, people walk hand-in-hand and ask for the elevators.

Nurses whistle their way up the stairs while passers-by click the heels of their shoes across the floor, sniffing at hospital-cafeteria smells. Some visitors blink sleepy eyes and battle looming catnaps on leather lobby couches.

The building is a mecca of noise and activity — until you pass through the glass doors, walk the empty hall of the Arts and Medicines offices and turn right into the double-door classroom.

There, two women sit wrapped in a thick blanket of quiet, surrounded by piles of art projects. They are alone, but they’re happy.

“It’s probably just us this session,” said Mandy Hancock Anderson, community development manager for the Gainesville’s branch of the Epilepsy Foundation. The art therapist, Padmavati Luciano, smiles and nods in response.

It’s the last session in an eight-week art therapy program for people with epilepsy, and despite no turnout, they are not discouraged.

For them, this program — with participants who were often few and far between — has been a triumph.

Gainesville’s branch of the Epilepsy Foundation was one of five cities in Florida selected to host Studio E, a multiweek art-therapy program for people with epilepsy.

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Carson Pedraza

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