Archives for February 2013

The Duck Tape Fix

When I was a kid duck tape only came in one color: grey.   Back then duck tape was only used for boring things like household repairs and maybe if you were really desperate, holding part of your car’s bumper in place.  These days duck tape comes in every color and pattern imaginable, from tie-dye to penguins to camouflage and purple zebra stripes.  Here in the art room we use duck tape for projects that are light years away from its boring repair origins.

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I worked extensively with one young lady who had been in the hospital for an extended period of time and at times was hard to reach with our “traditional” art materials.  She was hungry for challenge and a new material choice. Bring on the duck tape! We made duck tape purses, hair bows, wallets and flowers.  She even sold some of her creations to staff on the unit!  So add one more thing to the list of things that duck tape can fix: hospital boredom.

Art Therapy on the BBC!

We were delighted to be part of a story by the BBC about the field of art therapy. The story tries to get at how and why art therapy works. It features interviews with art therapists Donna Betts and Heidi Bardot, as well as students from GWU’s Art Therapy program and some great footage of our own Kate Martin working with some of our wonderful kids.

Here’s the link:

 BBC News Magazine

Click here to find out more!

The Power of Art: Can creativity cure the sick?

 25 February 2013 Last updated at 21:03 ET
Can unleashing inner creativity heal the sick?

Nine-year-old leukaemia patient Ryan is in no doubt. “It makes you feel like you can do anything really,” he says of the art therapy classes he enjoys, thanks to a US charity.

The American military has also long embraced art therapy, using it as a core treatment to help veterans recover from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Now top brass are leading research to find out why this kind of treatment works.

As Jane O’Brien reports in the second part of our Power of Art series, mounting clinical evidence of art’s medical benefits could bring new and exciting ways to harness its power.

Our Peeps Entry Revealed!

All last week at Lombardi, a crew ranging from two-year olds to grade-schoolers and a few adults, worked to transform marshmallow bunnies and chicks into a whimsical work of art for the 2013 Washington Post Magazine Peeps Contest. Since we are all about  kids and art, we chose to represent the incident at the National Gallery of Art on February 15 when a 10 by 37 foot piece of art started to come off the wall and some high school students caught it and kept it from falling. It sounded dramatic in the news accounts, but details were few, so we added creative embellishments.peeps_edited2 closeup3

Just to make it fun, we make the whole piece of art out of peeps. We spent several days custom-painting them to match the drawing. We even had to do “surgery” on them to make them fit inside the lines so we could keep the drawing to scale, but we were at the hospital, after all!

Maybe the most fun was putting in the visitors to the gallery. Three museum guards wear headsets and blue star “uniforms.” Some of the visitors have museum headsets (made of macaroni)  like the gallery provides with narratives about the art, and one little guy is holding a camera. One of the high schoolers who is catching the painting somehow ended up with Rastafarian curly-noodle hair! The gallery floor in real life is super-shiny polished granite, which we simulated with mosaic mirror tiles covered in translucent paint.

The Peeps Contest deadline is midnight, February 25, and this post is scheduled to go up at 1:00 a.m. on the 26th, so we don’t reveal our entry ahead of time. We don’t know if it will win–they get thousands of entries–but we had fun making it and talking about famous art with the kids at the clinic.


Lombardi Magazine Features Tracy’s Kids

The Tracy’s Kids art exhibit at Lombardi Cancer Center is featured in the February edition of the Lombardi Magazine online.


Here’s the link to a really great article about the exhibit and our program at Lombardi:

Tutu’s for Treatment

Tutu’s for Treatment

When a child is in treatment for cancer all extra-curricular activities must stop. This may also continue after the active treatment is over due to decreased “counts” or lowered immune system. For a little five year old girl one of these missed activities was Ballet class. Since she could not go to ballet, the clinic brought the ballet to her. We told her to come to clinic in her tutu and gives us a ballet lesson. What she did not know was the whole clinic wore tutu’s! We even taught all the little girls how to make their own tutu in the art area. Tutu day was a huge hit with alll the patients, staff, and families!



The 2013 “And The Winner Is” Event


First of all, we would like to say THANK YOU to everyone who came out to support Tracy’s Kids last Wednesday night, February 13, 2013. It was an amazing night spent celebrating Tracy’s Kids on the red carpet and at the movies.


To everyone who came to the event and who donated to support Tracy’s Kids for another year: thank you. We would be nothing without you.

Congressman Ted Deutch of Florida, Tracy's Kids participant Devon Tatlow, Tracy's Kids Founder and Chairman Matt Gerson, Tracy's Kids Board Member Melissa Maxfield and David Cohen of Comcast/NBCUniversal

Congressman Ted Deutch of Florida, Tracy’s Kids participant Devan Tatlow, Tracy’s Kids Founder and Chairman Matt Gerson, Tracy’s Kids Board Member Melissa Maxfield and David Cohen of Comcast/NBCUniversal

We would like to specifically thank the following people and organizations for their help in making this year’s event such a success:

  • Carly Glazier Photography  – this year we were lucky enough to have the talented Carly Glazier behind the camera.  Carly donated her time and talent to Tracy’s Kids and she captured the moments in the photographs that you will see on this site as well as on our Facebook page. Thank you, Carly.
  • The Studios – every year we are lucky enough to screen award winning films donated by the studios, which make our Hollywood experience complete.
  • Comcast/NBCUniversal – thank you for your generous support of Tracy’s Kids every year. We were lucky enough to have Comcast/NBCUniversal underwriting the event, which guarantees that all donations we received will go directly to supporting our programs.
  • Susan O’Neill and Associates – for the wonderful work you all do for us every year that helps make our movie event so unforgettable. We couldn’t do it without you.
  • And most importantly, to all of our contributors – THANK YOU! Without your support, none of this would be possible. Thank you, thank you.
David Cohen and Melissa Maxfield of Comcast/NBCUniversal

David Cohen and Melissa Maxfield of Comcast/NBCUniversal

At the event we premiered the “Keep Your Head Up” music video produced by and starring some of the participants of Tracy’s Kids! Two of the film’s stars, Devan and Sophie, were at the event and were able to share the excitement of the music video’s premiere.

Devon and his dolphin Big Head

Devan and his dolphin Big Head










The crowd loved the video—and we know you will too. Check it out on our YouTube Channel–and while you’re there, Subscribe to us!



Matt Gerson and Devon watch the video on stage at the 2013 "And the Winner Is" event

Matt Gerson and Devan watch the video on stage at the 2013 “And the Winner Is” event

We were lucky enough to be joined by many Members of Congress. Our guests included Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), Senator Robert Casey (D-PA), Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL), Congressman Sean Duffy (R-WI), Congressman Gene Green (D-TX), Congressman Bill Johnson (R-OH), Congressman Bob Latta (R-OH), Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA), Congressman Jeff Miller (R-FL), Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-KS), Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA), Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-TX), Congressman Fred Upton (R-MI), Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR), past Courage Award Recipient Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Congressman Mel Watt (D-NC), Congressman Peter Welch (D-VT), Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and the 2013 Courage Award Winner Congressman Dave Camp (R-MI).

Congressman Mike Pompeo and his wife Susan at the 2013 Tracy's Kids Fundraiser

Congressman Mike Pompeo and his wife Susan at the 2013 Tracy’s Kids Fundraiser

Senator Patrick Leahy, Matt Gerson and Marcelle Leahy

Senator Patrick Leahy, Matt Gerson and Marcelle Leahy

Congressman Ted Deutch, Senator Jack Reed, Congressman Sean Duffy, Congressman Dave Camp, and Congressman Mac Thornberry

Congressman Ted Deutch, Congressman Bob Latta, Congressman Sean Duffy, Congressman Dave Camp, and Congressman Mac Thornberry

During the event we presented Congressman Dave Camp with the Courage Award for the perseverance and bravery he has shown in his personal fight against cancer. We also learned that Congressman Camp is in remission—and we were thrilled to celebrate with him.

Congressman Dave Camp accepts the Tracy's Kids Courage Award

Congressman Dave Camp accepts the Tracy’s Kids Courage Award

Past Courage Award recipients were present at the event including our 2010 honoree, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Marcelle Leahy, our Courage Award winner in 2007 and current member of the Tracy’s Kids Board.

David Cohen of Comcast/NBCUniversal, Marcelle Leahy, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Congressman Dave Camp and Matt Gerson

David Cohen of Comcast/NBCUniversal, Marcelle Leahy, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Congressman Dave Camp and Matt Gerson

Here’s a quick roundup of the event, for those of you who were unable to join us.  After Matt Gerson welcomed everyone and spoke briefly about his own fight with cancer and his continued dedication to the Tracy’s Kids cause, Tracy Councill introduced the music video. Marcelle Leahy then spoke about the importance of the Tracy’s Kids program and introduced David Cohen from Comcast/NBCUniversal. David then presented Congressman Dave Camp with the Courage Award and announced the great news that Congressman Camp is in remission. After Congressman Camp gave an acceptance speech, Melissa Maxfield of Comcast/NBCUniversal—with the help of Devan and Sophie—drew the raffle winner and announced the movie theaters where each of the seven movies would be screened. Our guests then made their way upstairs to the theaters to enjoy popcorn and the movie of their choice.

Comcast/NBCUniversal's Melissa Maxfield announces the raffle winner as Sophie and Devon help with the drawing

Comcast/NBCUniversal’s Melissa Maxfield announces the raffle winner as Sophie and Devan help with the drawing

As a reminder, the movies we showed were:

  •  Argo — Critics’ Choice Awards for Best Picture and Best Director.  Courtesy of Time Warner.
  • Silver Linings Playbook — National Board of Review awards for Best Actor and Best Screenplay.  Courtesy of The Weinstein Company.
  • Les Misérables — Golden Globe Awards for Best Picture (musical or comedy), Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress.  Courtesy of Comcast NBC Universal.
  • Zero Dark Thirty — Awarded Best Picture by the Washington, DC, New York City, Chicago and Boston Film Critics’ Associations.  Courtesy of Sony Pictures Entertainment.
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild — Winner of Camera d’Or at Cannes Film Festival.  Courtesy of News Corp.
  • Flight — Writers’ Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay.   Courtesy of Viacom.
  • Lincoln — Nominated for twelve Academy Award including best director, best actor, and best picture.  Courtesy of Dreamworks Studios and Walt Disney Studios.

Tracy’s Kids Art Therapists Jean McCaw, Catherine Rubin, Elizabeth Burks, and Tracy Councill stand with Tracy’s Kids Board Member and past Courage Award Recipient Marcelle Leahy and Senator Patrick Leahy during the 2013 Program

 It was another great year of “And the Winner Is” – we look forward to seeing you all next year!

Until then, keep up with Tracy’s Kids by liking us on Facebook, following us on Pinterest, and keeping up with us here on our website!

Don’t forget, it’s easy to donate to Tracy’s Kids! 

Matt Gerson, Congressman Greg Walden, Andrea Mitchell of NBC News, and Congressman Fred Upton

Matt Gerson, Congressman Greg Walden, Andrea Mitchell of NBC News, and Congressman Fred Upton

Head over to the Gallery or our Facebook where you can see all of the photos from the event!

Tis’ the Season for Peeps!

Here we go again- thinking up crazy ideas for the annual Washington Post Peeps Contest! ( ) The deadline is this Monday, the 25th, and we are in it to win!


We have our idea (but you will have to wait to see what it is!), now we just have to figure out how to make our Peep masterpiece.


A couple years ago when we created our first Peeps Diorama (Peeper Fever) the kids jumped right in, helping to construct the scene and dress the peeps. Although very different from our first entry, I think this year’s diorama is going to be awesome and the kids are going to have a great time making it!

Wish us luck!


In the news. . .

Thought I’d take a minute to post the links to some great coverage of our Red Carpet on Wednesday night, February 13.  Enjoy!

Message in a Bottle (Actually, Under a Bottle Cap)

Most everyone reading this has (at some point or another) consumed a beverage whose brilliant marketing campaign includes having a witty saying or bizarre fact printed on the underside of the bottle cap.  Before you even take a sip, you feel compelled turn over the cap and read the message… It is simply irresistible.

Several months ago, fate missed me by a few feet and gave a bottle of tea (obviously meant for me) to one of my dear friends. That bottle cap carried this message…

Art therapist, more fun than doctor.

More Fun Than Doctor

A phrase that art therapists hear time and time again is, “your job looks like SO MUCH FUN!”  And I cannot argue with that – We really do get to have a lot of fun, throwing paint and sand and glitter around the art therapy room. But art therapy is so much more. We work very hard, trying to support patients and their families through a very challenging time in their lives. Sometimes, our most difficult task of the day is helping kids be able to have fun, even while they are in the hospital. Seeing children (who had been quiet and withdrawn earlier in their hospitalizations) get back to JUST HAVING FUN is one of the most rewarding aspects of our work.

Every day we go to work, we get to have some of the most meaningful interactions imaginable. We truly do have the very best jobs in the world. And we do have a lot of fun.

My thanks to Jackie Verrecchia, the author of this wonderful six-word memoir.

“Keep your head up!”

At last night’s “And the Winner is  Tracy’s Kids”  Red Carpet fundraiser we premiered our music video to Andy Grammer’s song “Keep Your Head Up!” It’s pretty much guaranteed to make you smile– great advice from our wonderful kids. Check it out, it will make your day.

And here are some pictures of the Big Heads making their way to last night’s event and back to the hospital to be returned to the kids!

Big heads on their way to the Red Carpet

Big heads on their way to the Red Carpet

Kate and the Big Heads in the Main Hallway at Georgetown

Kate and the Big Heads in the Main Hallway at Georgetown

Back in Lombardi Lobby

Back in Lombardi Lobby