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“Rising Up”: AdventHealth Orlando team member uses art to advance her community’s legacy

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Rising Up - Patient Care Tech Uses Art to Advance Her Community's Legacy

Sabrina Dessalines sees a beautiful work of art on her way to and from work every day. In fact, it’s located a few blocks from her home in Parramore, the oldest and largest Black neighborhood in Orlando, Florida. Dessalines said that when she looks at the seven-story canvas, she feels a sense of pride and accomplishment.

“It’s a great feeling to be able to look at something and say, ‘I did that!’” said Dessalines, a patient care technician at AdventHealth Orlando. “People in my community tell me the artwork feels like a warm hug.”

The “Rising Up” mural provides renewed hope and healing for the people of Parramore.

Dessalines was one of five artists – all women of color – who painted the “Rising Up” mural, a local partnership between AdventHealth and the Orlando Magic. Currently the largest mural project in Central Florida, it showcases 13 unsung heroes of Parramore’s past who helped the community survive the challenges of segregation and rise up against all odds. When the artwork was officially unveiled in September 2022, Dessalines said meeting the family of the featured professionals and artists was a humbling experience for her.

“People approached me and the other artists to thank us for shining a light on their loved ones,” she said. “That meant a lot to me.”

Her favorite pioneer featured in the mural is Mary Jane Johnson, a midwife who delivered over 1,500 babies and prayed over each child upon birth. Dessalines believes Johnson’s legacy, along with several others, has shaped the community’s identity.

“‘Rising Up’ serves as a reminder of Parramore’s rich history and provides renewed hope and healing,” she said.

Dessalines was new to the community when she heard about the opportunity to showcase its history in this unique way. Under the guidance of her mentor, an independent contractor, she took up the challenge of learning about Parramore’s people and history. The three-month-long process included direct engagements with opinion leaders and a trip to the community’s historical museum.

“Our team aimed to represent various aspects of Parramore’s growth, including education, health care and activism, in the project,” she said. “It took us three extra months to design and paint the mural, and I enjoyed the teamwork and using my unique skill sets.”

sabrina painting
Sabrina Dessalines, patient care technician at AdventHealth Orlando, spends time exploring her creative talent outside of work.

Dessalines has been committed to investing time and effort into projects that promote positive Black representation since she was young. She began exploring her creativity at an art gallery next to her school when she was 10. Whenever her mother ran late to pick her up, she would enter the gallery and create pieces with the owner’s permission.

“Every time I went there, the owner would give me some paint to create whatever I wanted,” she said. “I knew I wanted to be an artist, so I just kept doing that.”

Dessalines has painted over 100 art pieces, some of which have taken up to a year to complete. With every stroke she makes with her paintbrush, she said her end goal is to portray themes of beauty, elegance and healthy relationships. She credits her profound care for patients to her attention to detail, a skill she cultivated through her love for art.

“I find fulfillment in creating art and providing compassionate care to patients,” said Dessalines. “Painting is more than just putting a face on a canvas for me. It allows me to depict the positivity that I aspire for myself and that I like to see in others.”

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