On March 1, 2018, Shriners Hospital for Children received a generous grant from a Charitable Foundation.
This grant was for art therapy. The Child Life Department at Shriners immediately thought to invite CHAP to lead a weekly adaptive art class for their patients in halo traction.
Our first class on Tuesday morning, April 3rd, was a one-on-one experience with two sweet young girls in halo traction, Hana and Chloe. Both girls were immediately attracted to my bracelets and necklace, and although both were non-verbal, they expressed excitement in their project choice with big smiles. Hana did not have mobility in her hands, but was able to indicate with a energetic nod of her head when Jenn, the classroom teacher held up beads for her approval.
With Hana as art director, the two proceeded to make a sparkly bracelet.
I worked with Chloe, who was able to use her hands, although not always constructively. Before beginning class I was warned that Chloe had a powerful grip and would often hurl objects that she wasn’t interested in holding. Jenn announced art time by turning on lively pop music. And so we begin our projects while dancing in our chairs! I grabbed a beading tray and sit down next to Chloe, remembering to place the tray with beads a full arm’s length away! Inspired by Chloe’s pink sweatshirt decorated with hearts, I chose some of our adaptive beads, multicolored hearts, big cube-shaped letter beads to spell Chloe and a really big red heart to place in the very center of the necklace. I spoke to Chloe as I assembled the necklace, thinking out loud so she could engage in the creative process, the story of colors, shapes and the special red heart that we would put in the center. The necklace was finally finished and I tentatively placed it around Chloe’s neck. All was well for a few quiet minutes as we held our breath, then she pulled on the necklace and the beads went That was ok. I restrung the beads and once again placed the necklace around her neck, all the while talking about the special big red heart sitting next to her own heart. This time she smiled with pride, patting her heart and touching the big red heart bead on her necklace.
When I spoke to her mother the following week, she told me that Chloe loved her necklace and didn’t want to take it off.
(the names in this story have been changed to protect privacy)