Progam Evaluation Time!

The Tracy’s Kids programs are collecting feedback from kids and families who participate at all five locations.  We are confident that we do good work, but we always want to know how we can improve.

We are asking  specifically if we are meeting our key goals: helping  kids and families in the clinic or hospital relax and calm down, deal with scary or stressful situations, have fun, express feelings, and cooperate with treatment–and if we help in other ways too. We’d love for you to tell us about the things we are doing really right,  and also hear suggestions about opportunities we may be missing.

If you participate in one of our programs, please take a minute to fill out a questionnaire the next time you visit–and if you’re all done with treatment and you don’t have to go back anytime soon, email me and I will send you a questionnaire. Thanks for your feedback!

I’ve included a little photo gallery from our past blogs just for fun.

Tracy's Kids at Carroll Square 2012

Tracy’s Kids at Carroll Square 2012

Coloring the Model Magic

Coloring the Model MagicIv pole

Ladybug fairy

Ladybug fairy

imagefiesta window

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Hot Air Balloons!

Many, many dots of hot glue and several rolls of mounting tape later… We have finally finished our collaborative mural!

This is the 2013 edition of our collaborative project that the Tracy’s Kids art therapists have been doing with other art therapists at Children’s National Medical Center since 2010. Children from all over the hospital contributed to this beautiful project, and it’s wonderful to get to see their individual personalities shining through in little details throughout the image. These painted hot air balloons were inspired by the giant hot air balloons that hang in Children’s National’s main atrium.

Not only are those fantastic sculptures a fun and whimsical addition for the kids who visit Children’s National, but they are a great way to help provide directions throughout the hospital for parents!

A Follow-up to the Flamingo

Several weeks ago, we wrote a blog post about a wonderful young artist who makes some fantastic creations during her time in the art therapy room. In June, we told you about a cardboard tube flamingo. Now, we would like to share one of her most recent creations – a coordinated costume for her pet (stuffed) dog.

This young lady always seems to come into the art room with a plan. She doesn’t usually share her thoughts, so we get to enjoy watching her creation come together with each sequin, dot of paint or piece of tape she adds. Of course, we usually have some idea in our heads of what she might be making… But we never want to underestimate her creativity. This six-year-old frequently reminds us of how amazingly resourceful children can be – especially those who face the challenge of cancer treatment.

What we thought was going to be a pretty traditional picture of a sunflower quickly morphed into a costume. And not just any costume… but one that completely coordinated with the artist’s outfit of the day!

She dressed her dog and “walked” him around the art room with pride!

RylieR&Oscar

Flamingo!

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…

Flamingo1

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.

It’s coming together…

Between a busy art room full of patients, siblings and other family members out of school for Spring Break and making our usual visits to inpatient rooms we have been on our toes these past few weeks!  During a few spare moments we have begun to put together pieces of our collaborative canvas project from Creative Arts Therapies Week.  It has been so fun to see how smaller pieces of artwork born of so many different visions can come together to create something entirely new! 

Here is a glimpse of our progress! And we’ll show you the final project very soon… Stay tuned!

MuralPieces

Creative Arts Therapies Week!

This week is Creative Arts Therapies Week, which recognizes all of the amazing creative arts therapies (art, music, dance and drama)!  In the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s National Medical Center, we celebrated our fantastic art therapists and our music therapist by collaborating on a hospital-wide art project AND hosting a creative art therapies booth for patients and families!

Tracy’s Kids art therapists facilitated a hospital-wide collaborative mural that has become a tradition over the past several years to recognize and celebrate all of the Creative Arts Therapies at Children’s National. Canvases are painted by children, teenagers and young adults throughout the hospital– each contributing their artwork to be part of a much bigger picture.  Here are just a few of the pieces of the mural…

CNMCMuralPieces

Patients, family members and staff are all excitedly awaiting the “unveiling” – when all of the mural’s pieces are put together and the completed piece finally appears in one of our hallways. We’ll be sure to share it with all of you on the Tracy’s Kids blog once the mural is finished!

The Tracy’s Kids art therapists also hosted a creative arts therapy booth in the Children’s National Medical Center cafeteria. We had the opportunity to work with patients and families that we would normally never meet and to introduce them to art therapy!

Stay tuned to see our mural as it’s completed!

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.

Radiation mask

 Much of our time working with children with cancer and other life-altering diseases is spent trying to transform thoughts and experiences that are challenging and really scary into something more manageable.  Incorporating pieces of medical equiptment into artwork can help to normalize kids’ experiences and give them a sense of mastery and control during their treatment process.  Art work such as this can serve as a reminder of the bravey and resilience shown by children facing such daunting medical treatment.

The mother of one of our young patients (who recently underwent a bone marrow transplant) brought his radiation mask to the art therapists, asking them to transform it into “something that can hang in [my child’s] room to remind him of everything he’s gotten through.”

radiation mask

A common part of the preparation regimen for a bone marrow transplant is radiation, which destroys the patient’s own bone marrow in order to make way for the donor’s bone marrow. If the radiation is to a person’s head, a radiation mask is made to help keep the person’s head still and in the same position for each radiation treatment (which can be multiple days, sometimes over the course of several weeks).  The creation and wearing of a radiation mask can be a very scary experience, as materials are stretched over the child’s face in order to ensure an accurate fit.  During radiation, a child must wear the hardened mask which is secured to a table. 

Using a heat tool and scissors, the art therapists were able to cut away the extra material from the face of the radiation mask and painted it with bright colors and stars.  Now the mask is a fantastic reminder for the patient and his family of the many challenges they have overcome throughout their fight against cancer.  

Mask5Mask1

Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!

Throughout the year, the Tracy’s Kids art therapists help children decorate their hospital rooms with handmade creations, trying to make a foreign place feel a little bit more like home. Not surprisingly, these decorations tend to become even more festive and prolific during the holidays!

Even after an otherwise very cranky afternoon, one little boy quickly agreed that he wanted to have a white Christmas in his room! Soon, sticker snowflakes sparkled in his window and paper snowflakes floated down from his ceiling. In about twenty minutes, his room and his mood had completely changed. He has been asking for more snowflakes almost every time we see him. A full blown blizzard may be coming in the near future!

Twisted Paper Snowflakes

For the children who have to stay in the hospital over the holidays, a few pieces of paper and appropriately applied tape can make a huge difference. Even when it is fifty degrees and rainy outside, it can be snowing inside Children’s National Medical Center.

Below is a link to directions on how you can make your own twisty paper snowflakes. They can be made in any size and with any color paper. We hope you enjoy trying these on your own, and you can see how quickly any ordinary room can become a real winter wonderland!http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-3D-Paper-Snowflake 

Happy Holidays from Tracy’s Kids at Children’s National Medical Center!!!

Sparkles & Sprinkles

Glitter… that rather playful material that tends to defy any traditional cleaning methods and frequently manages to sneak itself into places where it does not belong – including my purse, my shoes and sometimes even my hair. Anyone who has children or who works with children knows the dangers of introducing the sparkly substance into any kind of art project – even the best laid plans typically end up covered in a sticky shine or hidden beneath a heaping pile of glitter.

This is no childhood obsession – glitter can be just as enticing for adults, as evidenced by the amount of sparkle habitually incorporated into numerous holiday decorations and in the (somewhat) secretive smiles of parents as they help their children add a little “shimmer” to their artwork.

So, what’s an art therapist to do when someone asks (oh, so innocently) for “glitter,” “sparkles,” or (the most popular among toddlers) “sprinkles, please…”

Just watch a child’s face light up with pure joy as she enthusiastically shakes copious amounts of glitter onto a miniscule dot of glue… With that little extra sparkle, she has created something perfect and beautiful that she will proudly show off to any adult within earshot (and even beyond). In that fleeting moment, in the art therapy room, her feeling of overwhelming success and happiness make all of the sweeping totally worth it.