Archives for June 2013

A SpongeBob SquarePants Summer!

Initially, patients become involved and engaged in the art-making process for a number of different reasons. Some patients love and have always loved creating, while others need to observe the art therapists’ continual presence and empathic support before they are willing to participate. Some patients need to see active involvement by patients their age or by members of their family. Some patients are searching for a creative outlet through which they can express themselves, while other patients are searching for an activity to help them pass the time. Some patients wait until a particular medium, material or process interests them.

This summer, a popular television character, SpongeBob SquarePants, has captured the attention of many of our patients and their families. A movement that began with one patient experimenting on an over-sized coloring sheet, has transformed into many patients creating brightly colored images of SpongeBob and his friends to fill the open wall space in the art room. SpongeBob’s familiarity has encouraged patients to participate in art-making at the clinic for the first time, allowed patients to collaborate and work closely with family members, feel connected to other patients in the clinic and gain a sense of pride and accomplishment, among other things. Thanks, SpongeBob!



Kari Kant and Tracy’s Kids

A couple weeks ago American flags created by patients from the DC and Virginia Tracy’s Kids locations were featured in an art exhibit along side the work of artist, Kari Kant. The art show was a lot of fun and we were so happy for the opportunity to share the kids’ artwork!  Thank you again to Kari Kant and to everyone who came out to show their support!

Here are some pictures from the show: 

Tracy's Kids team with Kari Kant and Sabra Rogers

Tracy’s Kids team with Kari Kant and Sabra Rogers

Gretchen and Jess in front of the found object flag created at CCBD of Northern VA.

Gretchen and Jess in front of the found object flag created at CCBD of Northern VA.

Tracy and Kate in front of the syringe painted flag created at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital.

Tracy and Kate in front of the syringe painted flag created at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital.

String quartet

String quartet


Hooray for Scribbles!

Young children like to experiment with paint. To a three or four-year old, mixing colors is scientific enquiry. What happens when you mix blue and yellow?  red and yellow?  red and green? all the colors together?–when you’re little it’s a revelation. Many small children perform these experiments over and over, trying out combinations until the paper is covered in what looks like a blackish blob.

Art and Science Converge

Art and Science Converge

Sometimes adults wonder if there is something wrong when a little one’s paintings turn to black. They see them start with beautiful bright colors and then come up with black-ish soup. Does all that black suggests depression? sadness? a lack of imagination? In most cases it is just the opposite. Creative exploration without judgment is important to cognitive development. Pretty is not always the point. Kids need to try out every imaginable combination for themselves, over and over, to understand how what they do influences what shows up on the paper. So next time your little person asks to paint, say yes–and turn them loose!


During a recent visit to the clinic’s art room, a very creative six-year-old immediately began gathering materials – several giant paper towel rolls, some masking tape, and pink construction paper.  This young lady always has a very clear plan of what she wants to make in the art room, but this was obviously going to be an extra-special creation. 

Our young artist worked quietly and very intently at the art table, never looking up. Eventually, she gathered a few more materials, including orange and black paint, extra-large googly eyes and a bunch of pink feathers.  The art therapists waited in anticipation to see what she was going to create that morning.  A few helping hands, careful placement of tape and a couple of strategic scissor snips later…


And we had a bright pink flamingo, with a smiling orange beak make its debut in the art room.  It is has been great fun to have our friend, the flamingo, sitting on our counter and watching over the creativity that happens in the art room everyday.

Childhood Brain Tumor Foundation Family Retreat Day

This Sunday, June 23, the Childhood Brain Tumor Foundation will hold its annual Family Retreat Day from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Glen Echo Park, Glen Echo, MD.

The day will feature speakers and discussion groups for parents and older patients, and art, games, face painting, nature activities, a puppet show and other activities for kids. Keynote Speaker Beth Wells, MD will discuss Late Effects Study Outcomes for brain tumor patients.

The Childhood Brain Tumor Foundation (CBTF) offers support, networking, and information to brain tumor patients and their families, and funds research, advocacy and education on childhood brain tumors. To find out more, visit their website: For more information about the retreat day or to RSVP, email

Tracy’s Kids 2012 Annual Report

The 2012 Annual Report is now available!


Tracy’s Kids participant at Life With Cancer

Included in the 2012 Annual Report are updates and photos from each of our five programs as well as financial information for the 2012 fiscal year.

The Art Room at CNMC

The Art Room at CNMCYou can access the

 You can access the report in the lower left hand corner of the homepage of our website or by clicking here.


Kathleen Sutter and one of the Tracy’s Kids participants in the art room at MCH-San Antonio

 We are proud of the work done in 2012 and excited about all the new things happening this year for Tracy’s Kids!

Screen Shot 2013-05-14 at 2.27.58 PM

The entrance to Lombardi Cancer Center at Georgetown University Hospital features Tracy’s Kids artwork all year long.

Art Therapy in The Washington Post!

One of the things that we try to do regularly at our clinic at Georgetown Hospital is provide a creative outlet for our medical and psychosocial team.  In an article published today in the Health & Science section of The Washington Post our clinical nurse manager, Jan Powers, gave a wonderful description of why making art can be so helpful during difficult times.  In this particular workshop we invited staff to get together to make art using clay.

“There was a lot of pounding and kneading, and while we made our pots or whatever, people started to talk. When your hands are occupied and you’re not in the spotlight, it’s easier to say things like ‘I feel really bad’ or ‘This child touched my heart and I’m grieving.’ It gives staff a chance to create out of something that is hurtful and painful.”

This is a great example of how the creative process and art therapists can play a very important role in supporting the other members of the clinical team.


 To read the entire Washington Post article about how hospitals are using the creative arts to combat compassion fatigue follow the link:


This time of year brings lots of great news about the accomplishments of our young people. With his family’s permission, I wanted to share some truly inspiring news from Tracy’s Kids participant Noah Grove.
When Noah was five, I was part of the team that helped him through cancer treatment. Though he had an above-the-knee amputation, Noah became a wonderful athlete–first playing golf, then running, and other sports. Now, ten years later, his family encouraged him to try out for the Paralympic Sled Hockey Team. At first he didn’t want to because he doesn’t consider himself disabled. Long story short, he made the training camp.
His mom shared part of the letter he got from the USA Hockey Player Development Committee:
You have been selected by the USA Hockey Player Development Committee as one of the top players in the sled hockey community and are invited to participate in the 8th Annual 2013 USA SledHockey Select Camp to be conducted July 13, 2013 through July 18, 2013 in Buffalo, NewYork. Attendance at this Camp is by invitation only.
He trains with the Wounded Warriors, too! What a great success story! Proud to know you.
WTG Noah!!!!!!!!!

Outstanding Student Citizen Award!

Tracy’s Kids participant Kailee Vance popped into the clinic at Georgetown today with some great news. At her fifth-grade graduation ceremony, she received the Ashburn, VA Ruritan Club’s Outstanding Student Citizen Award.

One fifth grader from each elementary school is selected through a blind review process. Kailee submitted a resume listing her community service activities, chief among them her ongoing support of Tracy’s Kids.

Kailee’s Run was established in her honor in 2007 and Tracy’s Kids has been the primary beneficiary every year. Kailee has also collected art supplies and toys for the kids at the clinic for many years–even when she was still receiving treatment. The really amazing thing about Kailee’s application is that she did not even mention that she had been a cancer patient–she just talked about her efforts to improve the lives of kids with cancer–and the application was reviewed anonymously, so the judges didn’t know who Kailee was. Her mom said there wasn’t a dry eye in the house when the award was announced at Newton-Lee Elementary School, where everyone knows her very well!

Congratulations, Kailee, and thanks to the Ashburn Ruritan Club for the check made out to Tracy’s Kids in honor of Kailee Vance!

Ashburn Ruritan Club Outstanding Student Citizen 2013

Kailee Vance-Ashburn Ruritan Club Outstanding Student Citizen 2013

what motivated Kailee to care so very much

CNMC American Flag!

Local artist, Kari Kant, has graciously chosen Tracy’s Kids as a charitable partner for her art show on the Rooftop Terrace of the Newseum Building. A portion of the sales from her abstract paintings will be donated to Tracy’s Kids – Thank you so much, Kari!

Maybe even more exciting, she invited the children served by each of the Tracy’s Kids chapters to create their own artwork to be included in her show. Each Tracy’s Kids site has created their own version of the American flag, inspired by one of Kari Kant’s abstract motifs. To recognize the Kari Kant art show opening this evening, we wanted to give everyone a preview of the American flag created by the children and teenagers at the main campus of Children’s National Medical Center.

Our flag brings together the smaller individual works of over twenty different participants in the Tracy’s Kids program at the CCBD at CNMC. The unique qualities of each person are certainly visible, but the overall image of the flag speaks to the community that can be fostered through creativity and art-making.


Thank you to Kari Kant for supporting Tracy’s Kids and for inviting our children and their artwork to have a moment in the spotlight alongside her own paintings!