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

 

Latex Free

Latex allergies are very serious, especially in hospitals and clinics.  The medicines and blood products given to the patients can actually increase their likelihood of developing this allergy.  For that reason there are no balloons in art making at the clinic.  This limits the piñata s, balls, bowls, and heads created out of paper mâché or plaster cloth.  I have found that large, latex free gloves work almost as well.  the gloves are difficult to tie and not as strong as balloons which is why i go with The largest size I can find.  First you tie knots in the fingers of the gloves right at the base.  Then you turn the glove inside out.  Now blow the glove up and tie a knot, which is the hardest.  I have found a piece of string or wire wrapped tightly works better than a knot.  This also helps as a hanging sting for while the ball is drying.

 

 

 

 

 

The layers of plaster cloth or paper mâché need to be thin and allowed to slightly dry between the layers.  The gloves are not as strong as the balloons and will become disfigured if applied too heavy or deflated too soon.

Happy mâché-ing!!

 

Winter Ballerinas

I am always searching for new, seasonal art projects for the patients, their families, and the staff to do. This helps the patients pass the time in the clinic, learn new techniques, and explore their creativity. The addition of all this artwork to the clinic walls makes the patients proud to spend time her, especially when their artwork is displayed.  When these snowflake ballerinas first made their appearance at the clinic, all the adults asked for directions, staff and parents. First fold an 8×11 piece of paper into a triangle and cut off the extra strip.  Put that strip aside for another step.  Fold the triangle twice more, point to point, to make a smaller triangle.  Cut tip off triangle where all folds come together. About two inches down from that point, cut a wavy line across. This makes the skirt. Proceed to cut pieces off sides of skirt as you would a paper Snowflake.

 

 

 

 

 

Next take extra strip of paper from beginning and fold in half lengthwise.  On the fold draw a body of a ballerina. Cut this out. Open snowflake skirt and slip folded ballerina body through top hole until skirt is under snowflake. Open ballerina body and hang. Enjoy!

 

Unexpected Puppetry

 

 

 

 

 

 

When working in a hospital setting it is common to focus on the medical aspect of the child. How they are physically, mentally, and emotionally handling their diagnosis and their treatment. However, coming to the clinic often affects more than just the child medically. They are affected socially as well. The missed school time, the inability to play sports, the feeling different can be a heavy burden to school age children. While most oncology children have the loss of hair and other physical changes to make them different, many children with chronic diseases have more subtle changes. It is the subtle differences and the longevity of their treatment that may affect these children for their whole lives. For the chronic diagnosis, such as blood disorders, the child must come to clinic every month for transfusions. Depending on the severity of their illness, they may not be able to play contact sports, may tire easily, even end up in the hospital frequently for pain or complications. As these children grow the feeling of being different can grow as well. At no time is this more apparent than in middle school. Middle school can be a rough time for any child, let alone a child who may medically feel like an outcast. This showed itself the other day when a thirteen year old boy with a chronic blood disorder came in. He often is talkative and likes to build skate ramps, or show off his drawing skills, before he settles into an iPad game or a movie. This time he was fairly quiet and unsure what he wanted to do. After going through a few choices i suggested making a puppet. I thought he would say no to this, as he is thirteen, but he jumped at the choice. I gave him a cloth puppet and explained all the materials he could use to decorate it. He said almost immediately he wanted to make a stage and put on a puppet show. A puppet show of a nerd and a bully. While creating these puppets, he said he wanted the play to be about a nerd who beats up a bully.

 

 

 

 

 

 

He completed the puppets and the stage, but became shy about putting on the show as he now had an audience. Having recent experience with middle school bullying I put on a short play for him asking him to prompt me along the way. What followed was an open tale discussion about bully’s and being bullied. While this play did not have anything to do directly with his medical condition, being aware of his social predicaments will help us to treat the whole child and not just the physical. In the end he asked that the puppets and stage remained at the clinic for others to play with.

Symbolic Runner

During our biweekly psychosocial rounds the social worker and I will collaborate on a staff art directive and one psychosocial aspect of our patients.  Our most recent meeting centered on the Ghanaian culture.  Having a multicultural patient population means the staff is often exposed to a variety of Faiths, practices, and social manners unlike their own. The best way to help give appropriate care to each family is to learn some of the customs.  the social worker and I became aware that we had quite a large group of families from Africa, particularly Ghana.  We decided that while she gave us a brief overview of the culture, focusing on their medical practices and beliefs, I would have the doctors and nurses stamp a runner.  The stamps were created from foam using an Ashanti symbols template.  After I explained the meanings of the various symbols, the staff were allowed to pick any of the stamps to add to the runner.  The next day two different staff members commented on how the addition of art with a cultural spin really enhanced the meeting.  They also requested more art directives during the meetings.  I know activating both sides of my brain, with art and learning, helps me to remember the learning.  I hope this symbolic runner helps us to be more culturally aware.

Bob and his dog, Bob

When a person has cancer most people’s thoughts go towards the physical and emotional hardships the person and their loved ones will have to endure.  What is an afterthought is the financial hardships.  When a child is diagnosed with cancer the treatment is started quickly, often very intense, and fluctuates as to how much time is spent in the hospital or the clinic.  At least one parent/guardian needs to be with that child at all times. It is not uncommon to hear of a parent losing their job due to missed days. If that parent is the sole breadwinner, or insurance carrier, the financial strain is devastating.   If the family has enough support a fundraiser in their hometown can be a huge help with keeping them on their feet, or even in their home.  One such family recently had a fundraiser where another guest of honor happened to attend.  Meet Bob and his dog, Bob.