‘Before I die’ chalkboards at Ashley High School

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'Before I die' boards on display at . Photo courtesy Lower Cape Fear Hospice.
‘Before I die’ boards on display at Ashley High School. Photo courtesy Lower Cape Fear Hospice.

Lower Cape Fear Hospice’s giant “Before I die” boards are at Ashley High School, 555 Halyburton Memorial Parkway in Wilmington through the first week of May.

People may use chalk to share hopes and dreams on the boards. The Begin the Conversation interactive art project was originally inspired by artist and urban planner Candy Chang, according to Stacey Manning, spokeswoman for Lower Cape Fear Hospice. When Chang lost someone she loved, the experience helped clarify her life, but she struggled to maintain perspective.

With the help of friends, she turned the side of an abandoned house in her New Orleans neighborhood into a giant chalkboard. The board was stenciled with, “Before I die I want to _____.”

Chang’s vision was to encourage her community to reflect on their lives and personal aspirations. LCFH is carrying on that vision and hopes the traveling “Before I die” boards will encourage everyone to share bucket-list dreams, Manning said. Begin the Conversation is a program that urges everyone to begin the conversation about advance care planning, and that includes talking about all the things people want to accomplish before they die.

“We want to bring awareness to and help take the fear out of talking about advance care decisions,” said Jason Clamme, LCFH director of community outreach. “People may become unable to communicate their healthcare choices at any time due to an accident or sudden illness. The installation of the boards at Ashley High School is a reminder that it is better to be 10 years too early than one day too late in having the conversation about end-of-life choices.

“We feel this is an important conversation for people of all ages so their wishes are planned out and followed, if needed.”

LCFH also offers monthly Begin the Conversation Clinics in New Hanover County from 10-11 a.m. the first Friday of each month at Phillips LifeCare & Counseling Center, 1414 Physicians Drive in Wilmington. The clinics are free for community members interested in learning more about putting an advance healthcare plan in place.

For more information about Begin the Conversation, contact Clamme at 796-7943 or email Jason.clamme@lcfh.org.

Lower Cape Fear Hospice is a nonprofit agency that provides healthcare and comfort to people with advanced illnesses; support and counseling to families; and education to the community in Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover, Onslow and Pender counties in North Carolina; and Horry County in South Carolina. For more information, visit www.lcfh.org or facebook.com/lcfhospice.