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Dec 21, 2015

Emilie's Beads

A peek at the beads Emilie's family brought CHAP
A peek at the beads Emilie's family brought CHAP

In this season of giving and sharing with family and friends, we've been reflecting a great deal on some of our cherished connections.

Part of bringing the healing power of art to children and families facing medical challenges is that we make trusting and long-lasting connections. More often than we'd like, those connections are colored by heartbreak.

Last week we were visited by Emilie's family. We never had a chance to meet Emilie - and are so, SO honored that her family has chosen Children's Healing Art Project to help carry her legacy. According to Alissa + Robbie, her parents, Emilie LOVED art, and was writing her own name and drawing family portraits by age 2 . At age 6, Emilie was one of the children lost in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012. 

To honor Emilie's memory, they created the Emilie Parker Art Connection, and pass along 100% of proceeds to community art programs that connect children with art. We were humbled to be mentioned in their posting on December 14, 2015, marking the third anniversary of her loss.

When Robbie + Alissa made their most recent visit to CHAP, they brought an incredible bounty - a box full of beautiful beads, wire, jewelry tools, charms.... They'd received it from a generous woman who'd decided to close her store and wanted to find a meaningful home for these last few items. They thought of us.

As we've shared in past reports, beading is one of our most powerful and popular programs. So far in 2015, we've provided over 3,000 healing art experiences using beads as the creative medium. (This is 1/3 of the total number of art experiences we expect to offer this year.)

When we sit with families at Doernbecher Children's Hospital while they're waiting outside surgery, we've found that people of all ages are drawn toward the beads. Children who are waiting for their turn - and feeling a bit antsy and also perhaps grumpy because they haven't been allowed to eat while preparing for surgery - are quickly distracted by the concentration it takes to select just the right beads and carefully string them. Parents who are waiting to hear that their children are out of surgery - and hoping for good news about the outcome - find beading to be calming and perhaps meditative. Beading is also something inpatients of all ages enjoy - especially those in the Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) oncology program at OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. There's a reason humans have continued making and using beads for centuries!

Being with Robbie + Alissa for a few moments in between errands and less than a week from what must be one of the hardest days each year, was a gift. Being the recipients of generosity that came through their efforts was a blessing. Being part of Emilie's legacy - helping her family live their goal of paying forward the love and support they've received - is a sacred trust.

Sharing the healing power of art is our shared mission. Thank YOU for making it possible for us to do this work. 


Sep 22, 2015

A place where both siblings are welcome

Part of the magic of CHAP is that we welcome children AND their families, both in and out of the hospital.

Recently our lead hospital teacher, Sharon, bumped into a family we've come to know well. They were at the hospital for a follow-up visit. Haley* was in her wheelchair, brother Owen* was at her side, and Mom was making sure everyone stuck together. When they saw Sharon, Mom was excited to tell her how much fun Haley and Owen had at one of our Summer Workshops, held at the Studio. 

Mom explained: there aren't many places that welcome BOTH of her children, although they love to be together. Places that are comfortable with kids in wheelchairs usually aren't offering a program for healthy kids. Places that provide programs for "normal" kids often can't or won't accommodate kids in wheelchairs. At CHAP - both in the hospital and out - we are delighted to welcome siblings.

Our focus is, and always will be, bringing the healing power of art to children in medical crisis. Extending support to include those who are traveling the path with them - especially their brothers + sisters - is important to them, so it's important to us.

Thanks to your support, we can create experiences where both siblings are welcome; where kids like Haley + Owen can be together.


*Names have been changed to honor confidentiality


Jul 15, 2015

At the Hospital: A 4-Part Story

Eddie's Dinosaur Painting!
Eddie's Dinosaur Painting!

The CHAP hospital team has stitched together a 4-part story for you. This illustrates the fact that we get to have ongoing relationships with patients staying in the hospital for their treatment, and their families. They have the opportunity to work with all 4 of us and try out so many different types of art.

 Stitch 1: Mary’s Thread

Eddie* is a five-year old with eyes like saucers. He looks so little in his big hospital bed, his mother by his side. It is Friday afternoon. I introduce CHAP and tell them to come join us in the Play Room. Eddie translates the invitation in Spanish to his mother. They do come in and his mother is thrilled and becomes absorbed with the beading. Eddie paints and then we decide to do a clay sculpture. I ask him what he wants to make and he says to me that he wants to make a visitor because he doesn't have any. So we make the most colorful, feathered, cheerful, crazy ‘visitor’ imaginable and place it right by his bed. I can't get that sad thought out of my head, though - NO visitors! 

The next week he is having a procedure and when Friday rolls around and I knock on his door – the room is full of visitors! He seems to have a regular parade of all times. Eddie with the big eyes and a flair for either tall tales or comedy has become a regular on CHAP days and we all treasure our time spent with him and his wild imagination.

 Stitch 2: Sharon’s Thread

A week or two after Mary worked one-on-one with Eddie to make his clay ‘visitor’, Eddie joins CHAP again at the art table. His nurse asks if he can be in the Play Room with us while his mom squeezes in this chance to take a quick shower. Eddie starts to build a necklace and is doing quite a nice job when his mother arrives, fresh and clean. He presents the necklace to her and she proudly places it around her neck.

The 2 of them proceed to work side by side. The mother makes a necklace for her son much in the same fashion as Eddie did for her. They are creating things so quietly. Intermittently, they stop for a nose kiss or some other sweet exchange. Their connection is palpable and the love between them is flying back and forth. They produce 5 or 6 pieces of jewelry and leave the Play Room arm-in-arm.

 Stitch 3: Maxine’s Thread

It is a quiet Tuesday afternoon in the playroom. Only one artist has joined me so far, and she sits happily absorbed in the patient and meticulous creation of the miniature sculptures that have become her expertise.

Then Eddie appears in the doorway, and remembering Mary's story of the "visitors", I was pleased to see that his father accompanied him.

First question that leads to a long string of questions that leads to a painting...

"Eddie, what would you like to do today?"



Eddie chose his paper, paint and brushes, and then we both sat at the little table, art supplies in front of us and observed each other for a few minutes.

"What would you like to paint?"

"I don't know."

Looking around the room I noticed the plastic dinosaurs on the windowsill.

"Do you like dinosaurs?"


Eddie, who has a very discerning eye, takes his time to pick out the dinosaur most suitable to his taste...the one with the really, really, really long neck.

I place the dinosaur on the table for reference and hand Eddie a pencil.

"Would you like to draw an outline first?"

"I don't know how."

Again remembering the "visitors", I sensed that this little guy could use some support here. So I suggested that I draw and he direct. That was fine with Eddie.

So I drew and we talked about visual relationships - where to place the eye on the head, how to make the back legs appear behind the front, how to make shadows with the pencil and then blend and smudge them with his little fingers for added effect.

So now the outline drawing was accomplished and we sat back to give it the Eagle eye.

Eddie keenly observed that the neck didn't appear to be long enough, and placed the plastic dinosaur on top of the drawing to compare. Indeed, the neck was an inch too short!

Erase and redraw to exact specifications.

At this point I was happy to see that Eddie was beginning to thrive as art director.

He boldly pointed out that the dinosaur skin had lines all over it and was not one color but many. We mixed and mixed and mixed until we arrived at the exact shades of green and brown. Eddie practiced and began to use fancy brush strokes to create the texture he wanted.

His ideas at this point were limited only by the size of the paper.... "Leaf trees" and grass for food, a volcano erupting, a big yellow sun, a helicopter flying through the air.

"Ok, I'm done"

"Good job, Papi" said his father proudly.

"Awesome job, Eddie! This was fun."

High five.

Eddie leaves the room proudly clutching his picture, which he adds to the collection of artwork on his door.

Stitch 4: Carolyn’s Thread

Eddie was in the playroom as soon as we arrived on Saturday. Quiet, not much energy and couldn’t decide what to do, but there and ready!   He went right to work with clay.   His sister soon arrived and with her arm around his shoulder, he began to talk and perk up a bit as he began to create a variety of food themed friends. He carefully mixed green to get just the right color for his pickle creature. Soon, this usually quiet young fellow was chatting constantly! “What is the order for putting things on a hamburger?” he asked his Mom.   Back and forth they talked as he made each of the items out of clay and assembled his hamburger critter, complete with feathers and googly eyes.

Close to four o’clock we marveled and his large collection of food creatures, and their possible need for a place to stay. He agreed saying, “Then they can keep me company when my family is not here.”   Curious, as I’ve never seen him without family.   I thought perhaps some small structure but no, a large canvas with blue walls and a door in the middle. He knew exactly what he wanted and clearly directed the construction. Almost never ceasing to talk for the entire afternoon, he left delighted with all his critters in their house, to keep him company!

Children's Healing Art Project (CHAP) provides over 9000 unique healing art experiences each year to children like Eddie and their families in medical crisis, working in partnership with community hospitails and organizations.

We invite you to donate on GlobalGiving's Bonus Day today, Wednesday, July 15th, from 6am PST to 9pm PST.  Your generous donation during this time will be matched 50% ensuring that CHAP can continue to bring our renowned art programs to children and families in medical crisis - always free of charge.

CHAP thanks you for your continued support!

*Name has been changed to honor confidentiality


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