Creative expression is an amazing way to help children and adolescents cope with challenges in their lives, especially when it comes to their health. Child life specialists use creative arts as a therapeutic intervention to help patients process their experience, gain control, build resiliency, and provide a sense of normalcy in a clinical setting.
I am excited to feature ArtWorks The Naomi Cohain Foundation on the blog today as they have been providing child life programs and patients with an amazing service. I had the pleasure to work with ArtWorks while working in the hospital and was blown away by their dedication, professionalism and empathy for our patients and families. I am sure you will feel that same way after reading about their program.
“ArtWorks, founded in 2002, is a creative arts organization supporting children battling chronic and life threatening conditions. Partnering with over 50 hospitals and healthcare organizations, in New York and New Jersey, ArtWorks reaches over 20,000 young artists annually.
Focusing on building resiliency and celebrating the creativity within each child, ArtWorks offers several programs that are open to patients, and their siblings, 0-24 years old and is at no cost to them. Express Yourself, hosted biannually in NY and NJ, offers an event to showcase the incredible talents of our community. Young artists contribute their visual artwork, which is professionally hung and framed, as well as performance artist present live with a professional sound and lighting crew. Close to 150 pieces of art and 25 performances are enjoyed by over 300 families and supporters. Also at the showcase are art activities, light refreshments and VIP offerings such as a red carpet and giveaways! ArtWorks was founded with the first Express Yourself show and this past May we hosted our 25th show! It is a joy for ArtWorks to welcome back participants every year and introduce new faces to our annual tradition! After the show, masterpieces are often seen installed in hospitals and companies through the Traveling Art Show. The Express Yourself shows demonstrate the importance of applauding the efforts of our artists, providing a sense of normalcy and bringing families together for something not medically invasive but amazingly heartwarming.
Offering patients and families the venue to share their talents is important to ArtWorks but so is providing the tools to create. The Surprise!Supplies program has launched 32 art carts in 26 hospitals. These one of a kind pieces of fine craftsmanship, stand about three feet tall and house a full array of artist implements. From crayons, paper and scissors to craft kits, modeling clay and glitter glue, every cart is replenished three times a year and can be utilized day or night! Decorated by world renowned pop artist, Ed Heck, each cart has a custom design that is hospital compliant and a bright staple in so many hospital units. Volunteers throughout the county have gotten involved by holding art supply collections to contribute to these vibrant carts evoking happiness and creative thought! Anyone can host a drive year around and no supplies are too small or too great! When giving these resources, ArtWorks is reminded how often the right instrument can inspire a world of distraction from pain and isolation and world of imagination!
ArtWorks’ newest program is the Intensive Creative Artist in Residence “ICAIR” Program, introducing professional working artist into hospitals. Screened, trained and insured artists are able to work both beside with patients and families as well as in small groups. The current roster of artists includes beatboxers, storytellers, animators, photographers, graffiti artists, percussionists, muralists and so much more! Each ICAIR residency is custom fit for the uniqueness of the facility and is built be an extension of the child life teams. Some assignments are a summer series of six workshops and others have been a consistent weekly presence for four years!
With .89 for every dollar raised, ArtWorks ensures that their resources are directly going to the young artist we serve. Making a huge impact in programs with limited child life staff or providing a value add to robust hospital teams, ArtWorks can meet the creative goals and impact positive change in any pediatric setting. To learn more about ArtWorks, check out www.artworksfoundation.org or contact them at 201.608.0146. ArtWorks Executive Director, Amy Sokal, shares “Partnering with leaders in the parenting and child life space, like Shani of Child Life Mommy, allow us to evolve with our partners and stay current on trends and important expansions that will help in sharing the healing power of the arts!”