Feb 13, 2021

The Healing Power of Art in the New Year

Mom and Baby Ring in the New Year with Art
Mom and Baby Ring in the New Year with Art

During this time of limited access to one another, Children's Healing Art Project (CHAP) now delivers hundreds of packets of art supplies to area hospitals for children and families to enjoy instead of providing one-on-one interactions. To mark the hopeful new year of 2021, CHAP created a special Healing Art Care Package for OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital with an inspiring and festive New Year's theme to brighten the days for the children.

CHAP staff thought long and hard about what should be included in these packets of new art supplies, and found beautiful thick 12" x 12" felt in a beautiful array of 40 colors. To set the children up for success, the squares were cut into isosceles triangles. Each child would receive five triangles. Day in and day out, CHAP lovingly cut hundreds of colorful triangles that were 3" across the top and 4" long.  Each care package included a length of ribbon fastened into a tidy little bundle and cinched around its middle with a paper belt so the children could display their banners in their rooms. Two 3/8" slits were pre-cut in the middle of each pennant so the artist could easily thread the ribbon through each hole. As the care packages were assembled, CHAP carefully selected the 5 felt triangles and ribbon and place them inside the boxes. A small hand-made greeting card was included showing a visual reference of the banner with the numbers '2021' printed on the pennant flags.

When completed, CHAP happily delivered the kits to the staff at Doernbecher Children's Hospital on December 30, 2020, in time for New Year's Eve.  Since CHAP is unable to even step foot into the hospital, delivery was safely made outside the main entrance of the building. And then poof! it's out of CHAP's hands. We just turn it over to the universe, hoping the children have fun with the supplies and get the idea about the New Year's banner. 

On January 7th, a little miracle happened. A hospital Child Life Specialist sent CHAP a photograph of a real mom, holding her real baby on her hip. The mom is wearing a mask, but you can tell that her eyes are shining. The baby is smiling, too. The location of the photo was instantly recognizable to CHAP staff as a room on a floor CHAP staff and volunteers used to visit every week with a cart full of art supplies and endless inspiration. Behind the mother and baby was their 2021 New Year's banner.  And guess what?  It was perfect. They used all the fun spangles that had been included, the numbers '2021' were written in blue glitter glue, and they had coiled up their pipe-cleaners into joyful little corkscrews.  It was a vision realized. That little morsel of feedback did our hearts a world of good.        

These and hundreds of other free Healing Art Care Packages are one way in which CHAP is able to deliver healing art experiences to children and families during this pandemic. In addition, CHAP hosts a wide variety of online interactive art sessions, sends free CHAP in a Box deliveries of art supplies to families at home, and is getting ready to host Inclusive Summer Art Workshops for the children CHAP serves. Until CHAP can safely visit with children and families in area hospitals one-on-one again, these are the next best way to deliver on our mission and support children and families during some of their most difficult times.


Oct 20, 2020

Essential to the Kids

Enjoying CHAP In a Box at Home
Enjoying CHAP In a Box at Home

Sharon, the Lead Teaching Artist for CHAP, was recently social-distance visiting with a family that participated in CHAP's art-making programs for several years. She originally met them years earlier when the son had been in the hospital for quite some time. While the young son was hospitalized, CHAP would come to the community playroom every week, bringing colorful and imaginative art supplies for all the children to enjoy. He looked forward to and loved these art-making sessions.

During this recent visit with the family, they asked Sharon about CHAP's current partnership with the hospitals, given the COVID-19 pandemic. Sharon explained that, for everyone's safety, the hospitals had all temporarily suspended CHAP's weekly in-person visits. She added that the hospitals were continually evaluating CHAP's status and that right now, only essential workers were being allowed in the hospitals to care for the children. The young man thought about this for a moment and then said to Sharon, "But you are essential...to the kids." Sharon smiled. She knew exactly what he meant.

Since mid-March 2020, CHAP has been understandably unable to bring our healing art programs to Portland area hospitals due to the on-going pandemic. CHAP also had to temporarily close our beloved art studio on Portland, which has meant that no children or volunteers have been able to enjoy that joyous space with us for over 7 months. 

So, CHAP got creative! We immediately began posting art-making ideas on social media platforms, switched in-person monthly Art Club to weekly online Art Clubs, completely re-structured the Inclusive Summer Art Workshops to take place via Zoom instead of in-person, and began providing free Healing Art Care Packages full of art supplies to hospitals to give to the children and families in their care. CHAP also continues to send free CHAP In a Box deliveries of art supplies to families outside the Portland-metro area every quarter.

CHAP believes in the healing power of art -- and we could all use some healing during these challenging times. We're constantly exploring new ways to deliver on our mission and to make a difference in the lives of children and families facing medical issues. When it is safe to do so, CHAP plans to return to our weekly in-person visits with the hospitalized children and to re-open our studio. Until then, CHAP will continue to make as many healing art experience happen as possible in any way we can.


Just Got the Latest CHAP In A Box Delivery
Just Got the Latest CHAP In A Box Delivery
The Joy of Making Art
The Joy of Making Art


Jun 19, 2020

Leaving the Hospital with a Hug

Now on staff, she had volunteered with CHAP years ago. Around the holidays, she got to work with a 4-year old child and her parents at OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital, bringing them fun, engaging art projects to enjoy each week to brighten their days. While new to this CHAP Teaching Artist, the child was a familiar face on that floor of Doernbecher. She had been mostly in - and occasionally out - of the hospital throughout 2019. Strong relationships had developed by this point in the family's hospital journey.

Late one Friday afternoon, the CHAP Teaching Artist was honored to witness this 4-year old child ringing the bell at that floor's Nurses’ Station. This tradition has become a sweet ritual for children to mark their last chemotherapy session. The nurses all gather around. Family and friends attend the celebration. It’s very moving and poignant. It fills the unit with hope. There is a song that the nurses all know. Copies of the lyrics are circulated among the crowd so everyone can join in. Depending on the age of the chemo graduate, sometimes there is confetti thrown, and sometimes there are bubbles blown. Picture men, women, and children of all ages - some bald, some with I.V. poles.  Most are standing - though a few are seated in wheelchairs or perched on their crutches.

The CHAP Teaching Artist observes this moment from the back row, not knowing this family especially well. The sweet song finishes and the young girl is lifted up to ring the bell that is mounted high on the wall. This starts a chain of hugs - from the family to the dedicated and wonderful staff, from the graduating family to those fellow patients who are still in the midst of their treatment. 

In all of this, guess who the little girl sees down the hallway? The Teaching Artist from CHAP. The child bursts out with glee, “The Paint Lady!” as she makes a beeline through the crowd to her. She is sure that it was the colorful CHAP T-shirt that all the Teaching Artists wear that triggered this incredible and touching reaction. She received the embrace from the child on behalf of CHAP, knowing that she was representing this little gift that had been bestowed on this child through CHAP’s efforts. It was the healing power of art that CHAP had made available to this remarkable family for over 13 months. 

The Teaching Artist’s face was new, but CHAP was an old friend.  

This wonderful experience is an illustration of the impact that CHAP and the healing power of art have on hospitalized children and their families. Since mid-March 2020, however, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it impossible for CHAP Teaching Artists and dedicated volunteers to visit area hospitals. 

So, CHAP did what CHAP does best and got creative! When Teaching Artists couldn't visit the hospitalized children in person, CHAP offered sanitizable bags full of colorful, engaging art supplies to the hospitals for the children to use in their rooms. When in-person Art Clubs for children with medical issues couldn't take place in our art studio, CHAP started offering Art Clubs via Zoom. CHAP also now sends encouraging ecards to children still in the hospitals; still mails free art supplies to families who live far from CHAP through the CHAP In a Box program; and posts creative art-making ideas on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for all to enjoy using items found around the house. 

Everyone at CHAP loves the new ways of providing the healing power of art during this pandemic...but we definitely look forward to being able to put on our colorful CHAP T-shirts and roll the art carts full of art supplies through the hospital halls to visit the children and families once again. And maybe even get a surprise hug from a child whose time in the hospital was made a little brighter through art.


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