Children's Healing Art Project (CHAP)

Children's Healing Art Project (CHAP) brings the healing power of art to children in crisis through a mobile team of teaching artists working in local hospitals, clinics and community art spaces. Research demonstrates the importance of art in the healing process: It helps patients and family members cope, encourages compliance with treatment plans, increases self-confidence, encourages self-expression, reduces stress, pain, isolation and anxiety and promotes quality of life.
Dec 20, 2013

"Hey! You don't have any arms!"

 
One sunny fall afternoon in Art Club sat two girls both unaware of the others’ physical challenge with their only concern being what color glitter should be used next.  We will call them Sally and Sam.
 
The youngest of the two, Sally, was 4 ½ years old and her first time to Art Club, while Sam, a preteen, had been coming to CHAP for years.  Sally maneuvered as best as she could with one working hand, as the other was unusable since birth. 
 
The two had worked side-by-side for quite a while when Sally asked Sam to hand her some glitter glue that was too far for her to reach.  Sam said, “Sure” and quickly whipped her leg across the table, grabbing the glue with her toes and brought it back to the little one whose eyes were bigger than pancakes, for she had never seen something so magnificent.  Sally yelped, “Hey! You don’t have any arms!”  Sam responded with a smile and replied, “if you think that is cool, do you want some snacks?”
 
Without hesitation, the two of them sprang up to the counter full of snacks that was too tall for Sally to reach.  Once again, Sam shows her new friend how life is when you don’t have any arms.  She removed her shoe and gracefully picked up a plate, sat it down, loaded it with snacks of Sally’s choosing and delivered it to her place at the table.  Then Sam filled her plate and the two sat down and shared some snacks together.
 
Without a doubt, Sally left empowered that day.  Full of new possibilities of being in a world where she was not different.  CHAP, and her new friend Sam, helped her find the freedom to be expressed and accepted as the wonderful and capable young lady that she is!

Links:

Sep 20, 2013

You can't judge a book by it's cover.

Beautiful beaded necklace
Beautiful beaded necklace

For the past year, CHAP has been working with the Adolescent & Young Adult (AYA) oncology program at Knight Cancer Institute.  The AYA patients are between the ages of 15 - 39.  

The coordinator mentioned that a young man and his mother were both struggling with a recent diagnosis.  I went to that patient's door and introduced myself. He was alone. As I do with all patients, I listed the range of options I could bring to his bedside: watercolors, coloring mandalas, clay or jewelry-making. I could tell by his body language that he was going to accept something. He was on Day 6 of his stay. I think he was ready for some diversion.
Within a minute, he requested some beads. "I'll make something for my sister." Then he quickly followed with, "I should make something for my mom, too. Can I make 2 necklaces?" I gave him a resounding "Yes!" and scurried upstairs to gather the supplies.
He selected violet beads for his mom and green beads for his sister.  He told me their first names so he could customize the pieces with alphabet letter beads. When I came back to his room, he was sitting up and ready to work. I asked him if he had done any beading in recent years. He said, "Not since I was a kid." With the first necklace, he let me do the layout of the beads and he threaded them onto the string. By the second piece, he was in the driver's seat. He did the entire layout, with impressive attention to symmetry. We chatted a little bit and at other moments it was quiet. He mentioned at 2 different points that he was in excruciating back pain - but he never winced or groaned. He said it very matter-of-factly and then went back to the business at hand. For his third piece, he made himself a keychain.

By this point, we had been working together for well over an hour. A connection had been formed. He said to me, "Did you think I would say no?" Meaning - did I think he'd reject the opportunity to make art? I kind of chuckled. I said to him, "In the 4 1/2 years I have been doing this job with CHAP, I've learned to not make assumptions. You can't judge a book by its cover." I see this over & over again. The most rugged-looking cowboy from central Oregon will sit in the hospital and make beautiful beaded bracelets for his wife back at home. It's always a pleasure to see.  I've stopped being surprised.
There was one person in his life he still wanted to make something for - his aunt. Well, not technically his aunt, but rather a close family friend. She had been helping out with his hospitalization. She seemed an important player in his care-giving. I said, "Of course, you can make something for her. It sounds like she has been a great support to you." This woman recently had to return home, which was out-of-state. He said he would send it to her. He decided on red and clear crystal beads for his aunt and we put her name on it, too. He said that she was a source of steadiness, whereas his own mother was still reeling from the diagnosis. The aunt was both comfortable in the hospital setting and in her role advocating for him. She was calm and ready to do what needed to be done. She had that "one day at a time" attitude that CHAP hears so much about at the hospital. He appreciated this. He was clearly grateful to be buoyed up by his honorary aunt.
Towards the end of my shift, I went back to the patient's room to see if he had finished his final piece. Guess who was in the room? His mom and his sister - and they greeted me wearing their new necklaces. They were cheerful and delighted to receive their gifts. The mom was interested to hear about our AYA Bedside Art program. The patient was quiet now that his family was there. But I know he enjoyed it. I know he was glad he had said - 'Yes'.
Jun 27, 2013

Darkness Cannot Drive Out the Light

I find that there are no perfect words or ways to bring comfort to folks when they are experiencing pain and struggle. The best option for me is to provide my patients with an ear for genuine listening. Sometimes just a few words are expressed; sometimes it's simply facial expressions. And sometimes that is all that needs to happen to make a connection.

My co-art teacher had taken several 'room service' bead requests at one of our partner hospitals and I was making some room deliveries. My co-art teacher told me that I would really like the energy of the woman in room XYZ. When I opened the door, this wonderful woman was sitting in a chair next to her bed. Her name is “Tess” and she greeted me with a warm, crooked smile.

Tess shared with me that none of her family lived nearby the hospital and she was not very happy to be there as you can imagine. She had previously found out that she had cancer, but was treated and was in remission. More recently, Tess started feeling terrible and grumpy again. Her fears were made into reality when the doctors told her that her cancer was back, and this time she needed a bone marrow transplant. While Tess was sharing her story with me, she was altering her house slippers. She said everything [in her life] was just uncomfortable right now; her house slippers, her pants were too tight, just everything. 

Tess and I spent some time conversing and then I showed her the colorful plate of beads that I had to offer and her eyes lit up. She was happy to have a distraction. I told her that we would be back to check on her and that she could call for us anytime she needed more supplies. She looked up at me and thanked me. As I walked toward the door, she sweetly said, “I am hopeful that this hospital will get the cancer out”. I looked at her and said, “me too”. 

An anonymous donor will match all new monthly recurring donations, but only if 75% of donors upgrade to a recurring donation today.
Terms and conditions apply.
Make a monthly recurring donation on your credit card. You can cancel at any time.
Make a donation in honor or memory of:
What kind of card would you like to send?
How much would you like to donate?
gift Make this donation a gift, in honor of, or in memory of someone?

Reviews of Children's Healing Art Project (CHAP)

Great Nonprofits
Read and write reviews about Children's Healing Art Project (CHAP) on GreatNonProfits.org.