Sep 11, 2018

Bring the Healing Power of Art to Children

One  Saturday in July, 2018, CHAP offered art at the Smile Oregon event at Gabriel Park in SW Portland. This was Smile Oregon's 8th Annual Walk and Family Picnic and it was the 3rd year in a row that they have asked CHAP to be a part of the festivities. This relationship was made years ago when Dr. Judah Garfinkle started noticing CHAP working with his patients in the waiting area outside of pediatric surgery at Doernbecher. Dr. Garfinkle is one of the founders of Smile Oregon, a non-profit that serves families affected by cleft or craniofacial conditions.  This has been a perfect extension of CHAP. The patients have many stages of repair and are in the hospital with great frequency over a relatively short period of time. The Walk and Family Picnic gives CHAP the opportunity to re-connect with people we met years ago. As always, we love seeing familiar faces and the chance to spread more joy.


Jun 13, 2018

Bring healing art to children in medical crisis

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)



Mar 15, 2018

Bringing art supplies, bringing joy

A mother's wish for her son
A mother's wish for her son

Parents like doing art, too. We see this a lot at the children’s hospital. On a recent Wednesday afternoon at OHSU Knight Cancer Center, we successfully enticed a mom and dad to spend time creating.  

Their spirits were high. Their son was acting more himself. In previous weeks, the illness, the surgery and the chemo had left so strong an impression on their boy, he really wasn’t the young man they knew. Glimmers were coming through that day. When the boy accepted our invitation to paint, his mother nearly leapt for joy. She eagerly agreed to paint with her son.

CHAP volunteer Julia delivered the palettes of acrylic paint and canvases to the boy's room. Soon though, the medical team needed to do a procedure on the patient. His displaced parents wandered down the hall to the Family Room where CHAP had set up shop. They had their paint in one hand and their canvases in another. 

The husband worked quickly and quietly. His canvas quickly came to life. His wife of many years sat at the art table in front of him. At one point, he teased her by running the end of his paintbrush through the back of her hair. They had great playful energy between them.  

His wife readily shared the good news about her son's treatment while she worked. The husband’s painting was quite sweet and we fussed over him. When we asked if we could take a picture of him holding his painting, his wife feigned irritation that we were giving so much attention to his "masterpiece." We had a good giggle over this and tried to bring a little focus to her project. 

She painted the word ”Hope" on her canvas. When we photographed her artwork, she teased us and said we were just trying to be nice. All this was very light-hearted. The husband and wife worked with us for quite a while. They were clearly happy to have this break, a little time to laugh together.   

We were honored to have a front row seat watching them connect, just by offering a little acrylic paint, some brushes and two small canvases. It doesn't take much to spread joy. We’re certain this good cheer trickled back into their son's hospital room!


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