How it all started
Painting it Forward started as an idea by a bored man lying in a hospital bed. Chris Lategan, a craniopharyngioma brain tumour survivor had a close call in June of 2014 when he underwent brain surgery performed by Neurosurgeon, Dr Armin Gretchel at Tygerberg Hospital.
Dr Gretchel had to remove an egg-sized tumour that was growing and slowly causing blindness during an already painful 8-month headache. It would’ve certainly meant an eventual untimely death for Chris if it wasn’t removed. The surgery was a success, and a testament to the incredible medical skills that were provided by Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town.
While Chris was recovering at the hospital he was visited by Dr Jonathan Burke, his anaesthetist. During his brief chat to Dr Burke, Chris told him how thankful he was to the doctors for saving his life and wanted to know how he could repay them. Dr Burke simply replied: “Pay it forward.”
Chris was moved to a different room for treatment by Endocrinologist, Dr Ankea Coetzee. On his way there he passed through a children’s ward. “It was sad to see the terrible condition of the walls in their ward. The paint was coming off and there wasn't a hint of bright colours or pictures to liven up the atmosphere for the children in the ward,” says Chris.
After seeing this, Chris’ big Pay It Forward idea came to him. With over ten years of experience in Production Design in the local film industry, he started envisaging how quickly one of these wards could be enhanced if a group of artists and artisans collectively gave it a facelift. This was the start of the Painting it Forward project.
“I initially posted about the idea on Facebook and asked who would be interested to get involved. The response was overwhelming,” says Chris. A team was assembled, volunteers and artists signed up and the inaugural event was a great success.
Along this wonderful journey, Chris met Daniel and Friends - an NGO that helps kids with special needs by providing support and training to their families. They have become an essential part of Painting it Forward, doing all they can to help with the success of the initiatives.
The Painting it Forward project is aimed at integrating corporate sponsorship and community volunteerism to refurbish and decorate the walls of any children’s facility that needs to be uplifted. In this way, kids can recover and learn in an atmosphere that is fun and inspirational.
This initiative is possible due to the medical professionals Dr Armin Gretchel - Neurosurgeon, Dr Jonathan Burke - Anaesthetist, Dr Ankea Coetzee - Endocrinologist and Dr Riëtte Nel - GP.