Bring healing art to children in medical crisis

by Children's Healing Art Project (CHAP)
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Bring healing art to children in medical crisis
Bring healing art to children in medical crisis
Bring healing art to children in medical crisis
Bring healing art to children in medical crisis
Bring healing art to children in medical crisis
Bring healing art to children in medical crisis
Bring healing art to children in medical crisis
Bring healing art to children in medical crisis
Bring healing art to children in medical crisis
Bring healing art to children in medical crisis
Bring healing art to children in medical crisis
Bring healing art to children in medical crisis
Bring healing art to children in medical crisis
Bring healing art to children in medical crisis
Bring healing art to children in medical crisis
Bring healing art to children in medical crisis
Bring healing art to children in medical crisis
Bring healing art to children in medical crisis
Bring healing art to children in medical crisis
Bring healing art to children in medical crisis
Bring healing art to children in medical crisis
Bring healing art to children in medical crisis
Bring healing art to children in medical crisis
Bring healing art to children in medical crisis
Bring healing art to children in medical crisis
Bring healing art to children in medical crisis
Bring healing art to children in medical crisis
Bring healing art to children in medical crisis
Bring healing art to children in medical crisis
Bring healing art to children in medical crisis
Bring healing art to children in medical crisis
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.

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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.

Wishing you JOY, CREATIVITY, & HEALING.

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

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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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Mia and her Family
Mia and her Family

Nine-year-old Mia loves Children's Healing Art Project (CHAP). "Anything is possible at CHAP. It's just one of the best places on earth," she announces.

Mia was introduced to CHAP through Shriners Hospital for Children where she goes for recreational therapy. Mia was instantly excited and inspired by the openness and endless creative outlets that CHAP provides each person. Whether she attends monthly Art Workshops at CHAP in her wheelchair or standing on her own, Mia always knows that she is accepted and included for exactly who she is. At CHAP, children are known for their creativity and ingenuity -- not by their disease, diagnosis, or disability. To kids like Mia, that means everything.

Mia's mom, Bethany, and her grandmother, Mary, agree 100%. As Bethany says, "I love how CHAP includes everybody, and meets them where they're at." In CHAP's art studio, Mia and her whole family can put aside the challenges of living with a chronic illness to focus on art, creativity, friends, family connections, and finding joy during otherwise difficult times. 

In 2019, CHAP facilitated 10,401 healing art experiences for children and families at local hospitals, in our Portland art studio, at outreach events, and through CHAP In a Box home deliveries of inspirational art supplies. Each one of those 10,000+ free healing art experiences is a personalized, one-on-one interaction between CHAP staff or dedicated volunteer and a child or family member facing medical challenges. Each and every connection is as unique as the glittery, colorful, joyful art that is created together.

Mia at Art Workshops
Mia at Art Workshops
Mia and her Doll Grace
Mia and her Doll Grace

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A Colorful Spirit House
A Colorful Spirit House

As CHAP expands weekly art-making service to 17 different locations Portland, Salem, and Eugene this year, we never take for granted how every single healing art experience makes a difference. Here is the story of one woman and her colorful Spirit House:

Every Wednesday, CHAP teaching artists and volunteers are at OHSU Knight Cancer Institute bringing healing art opportunities to children and families. On this particular Wednesday, a woman strolls into the room around 4:30pm – nearly the end of CHAP’s time there. Alone at the table, the CHAP teaching artist is sorting colorful beads that children had been using earlier. She invites the woman to participate. The woman declines, saying that she is simply looking for a quiet place to work on her scrapbooking while her husband sleeps. She places her supplies on the small round table, yet is drawn to the long folding table that CHAP had set up for artists and would-be artists. The table is full of a selection of acrylic paint, canvases, Sharpie markers, beads, mandalas, colored pencils and watercolors to spark the imagination.

The visiting woman is instantly drawn to a Spirit House that had been started and then left on the table by someone. Constructed with sticks and wrapped in white cheesecloth, it is ready to be decorated. The woman is curious about it and plops down in one of the empty chairs. She says, “Okay, why not?” She seems charmed by the idea that it can function as a nightlight; she and her husband have not been sleeping very well.

Quickly, the teaching artist pulls out a collection of colorful tissue paper squares. She waters down some Elmer’s glue so the woman can apply the tissue pieces to the walls of the Spirit House. She’s hard at work in minutes. Scrapbooking abandoned, she starts chatting with the CHAP teaching artist.

The woman says she is sad that her husband is so sick. He has been fighting cancer for 5 years now. She confesses that she has spent much of that time being angry. The cancer has affected every facet of their life; her husband now requires full-time care (he cannot so much as lift a frying pan on his own) and she is the one to do it. She does it with love. They have 2 children, one in college and one in high school. The oldest just recently dropped out of college in order to come home and help take care of her younger brother still living at home. The parents did not ask for this, but they are struck by her kindness and selflessness. The daughter said, “This is what I can do for you right now. Mom, you take care of Dad. I will take care of brother to ease your burden.” It’s an incredible pulling together.

The teaching artist asks her how she met her husband. They met when she was 18 years old. She had just finished high school. As a graduation gift, her parents gave her a one-way ticket to Greece. Her grandfather was Greek and she herself has a classically Greek name. She departed on this huge trip knowing how to say two things in Greek, “Hello” and “I love you.” After being in Greece for 2 months, she crossed paths with her now husband. He caught her eye. A few weeks later, they had their first date. A romance followed.

After 3 exciting months in Greece, she flew back to the Pacific Northwest. After a 4-month courtship, they were married. 

Fast forward thirty years and they are still married. She said it’s been so hard to see him so sick. She said, “I really like him. I love him.” The chemo has been brutal and although it is viewed as the medicine to help him regain his health, it doesn’t always feel this way. It goes without saying that cancer has changed the trajectory of their life. She does not feel comfortable leaving his side nor does her husband want her to. She has since given up the idea that she will sleep at home when her husband is in the hospital.

All this comes pouring out of her heart. The whole time she is talking, her colorful Spirit House is taking shape. She asks for advice on how she should complete the top. When the teaching artists mention that we have feathers, her eyes light up. She said, “Oh, I love feathers!” Her Spirit House is finished with a sprout of colorful feathers coming out of the rooftop. She’s grateful for this opportunity to create something. She’s pleasantly surprised that this act of making a Spirit House has been so helpful to her. By now, it’s approaching 5:30pm but there’s no rushing this moment.

She leaves the room with her untouched scrapbooking and a sweet Spirit House with feathers at the top. The teaching artist thanks her for coming down to the Family Room to be a part of CHAP. She tells the woman that she hopes the Spirit House helps her and her husband get a good night of sleep...at last.

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Children's Healing Art Project (CHAP)

Location: Portland, OR - USA
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Children's Healing Art Project
Portland, OR United States
$87,900 raised of $150,000 goal
 
1,114 donations
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