Expressing Health Equity Through Art

Dec. 15, 2022

Local K-12 students showed the University of Rochester Medical Center what health equity – or the lack of it – looks like to them in a recent art contest. The contest was held by the new Office of Health Equity Research, part of URMC’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute, as a way to engage the community on the topic of health equity and to do a little observational research at the same time.

“Rochester is among the worst performing cities in New York in terms of health equity,” said Edith Williams, Ph.D., founding director of the Office of Health Equity Research. “The contest is an important step toward developing a program that makes a meaningful, visible, sustainable impact on health equity through research. Authentic engagement and partnership with the community is critical, especially with those most vulnerable to existing inequities such as children.”

According to Williams, the students’ artwork, which included paintings, drawings and photographs, is actually a form of health equity research, offering a glimpse into the students’ experiences, understanding and aspirations for health equity. And the children of our community know more about health equity than some might think.

We Are All Black

A submission by first grader Deonne Major, of the Rochester Academy Charter School, demonstrated a scientifically validated concern – the disproportionately low number of Black doctors relative to the U.S. population. Having never had a black doctor, Major’s drawing, entitled We Are All Black, is a depiction of the world he hopes for.

“The [art contest] responses are powerful,” said Williams. “Our Office of Health Equity Research is meant to catalyze, guide, and support these types of activities along the translational spectrum of health equity research. We are all members of the community, so as we continue to build our research capabilities, we have to acknowledge every voice with the ultimate goal of improving health outcomes in our region.”

Six community judges evaluated the art contest entries and on December 14, student contestants and their parents gathered for an awards ceremony at the Medical Center. First, second and third place winners were announced in each of three categories: high school, middle school, and elementary school, with cash prizes ranging from $25 to $200. The first-place award winners, listed below, also secured a $250 award for their schools.

First Place Awards


High School

Righteous Buggs, Rochester School of the Arts

Let’s Do It Together.

“I believe that everyone, no matter what circumstance, deserves affordable or even free healthcare, so in the push for health equity I created this piece that shows all different types of people coming together to make healthcare available for everyone,” he said.


Middle School

Jeremiah Jenerson, Rochester Prep MS3

Tree of Equity.

“As an African American, there are so many things that are not equal when it comes to health care. When receiving quality (equal) health care (the tree) you have to consider the different circumstances that people face (the roots). If this world can get to a place where those things don’t matter, it would make our health care system better.



Carason Ware, Bernabi Elementary School

Equality as the Tree of Life.

“The tree of life brings everyone together. No faces needed as we are all different but the same on the inside.”

Students who did not have artwork to submit were invited to join the Office of Health Equity Research Youth Advisory Board – a paid opportunity to meet with staff and provide input on the types of research the Office will conduct. Area students who are interested can contact the Office of Health Equity Research by emailing

Co-authored by Jonathan Ghent, founder and CEO of WritLarge PR.