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!

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Scribbling Siblings 2013

Hi! My name is Amanda Andrews and I’m the newest member of the Tracy’s Kids art therapy team at Children’s National Medical Center.  I’m an art therapy graduate of George Washington University, where I discovered my passion for working with oncology populations and in medical settings. I am here for the summer to work primarily with the siblings of the children who are here for treatment and appointments, but I also get to interact and make art with many of the patients themselves.
 
The siblings I work with get an opportunity to create their own art work at the art center in the waiting room – We like to call it “Scribblin’ Siblings”.  It’s a great place for them to share, create, and explore while they wait.
Since it’s summer and these kids are spending a lot of their time in a boring waiting room, I try to keep things fun! I’ve been working to create various, inviting themes each week to keep things interesting and to provide an environment that allows the kids to be themselves.
 
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We’ve been working on projects like these:
 
Make your own giant shield
Creating superheroes with super powers
Make and fly paper airplanes
 
The very hungry caterpillar
catepillar string
   
Bones and X-Rays
xrays
 
Make your own turtle
turtle bowl
 
 
 
It’s been great getting to know the kids who are here each week, becoming the art table regulars. Some of them have even started teaching ME how to make things and showing me ideas that I can share with everyone else.
 
I’m looking forward to a fun and creative summer with these siblings!  
 

Tracy’s Kids 2012 Annual Report

The 2012 Annual Report is now available!

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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.

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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!

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

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.

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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!

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.

Six Days A Week

I joined Tracy’s Kids Art Therapy Program at Children’s National Medical Center (CNMC) in May of 2008.  I worked Monday through Friday during traditional daytime 9-5 hours.  Then in January of this year I had a baby.  I transitioned into working part time after my return from maternity leave and requested that one of the days I work be Saturdays.  I knew that this would make it possible for a family member to watch my son, but what I didn’t know was how different, and wonderful, it would be to work at the hospital on a Saturday.

 During the weekdays at CNMC there is an incredible wealth of services and activities available to patients and their families.  When I came in to work on my first Saturday I was shocked at how incredibly quiet the unit was.  There were no activities for the kids to participate in and most of the children spent the weekends sitting bored in their rooms.  When I first started going into patients’ rooms on Saturdays they would become incredibly excited and almost always one of their first questions to me was, “is the art room open?!!”  Now the children are frequently waiting at the art room door for me when I arrive on Saturday morning.  I even had one child who, upon entering her room at 8:45 in the morning, greeted me by saying, “you’re here! Finally! I’ve been waiting.  These are the things I need for my project.” 

 Another especially rewarding aspect of having the art room open on Saturdays has been that it has enabled so many more families to be together in the art room.  Many children only get to see their siblings in the evenings and on weekends.  Being present on Saturdays has enabled the art therapy program to really reach more children who are in need of services.  And shockingly, Saturdays have actually become my favorite day to work.  I did not previously realize that there was such a void on the weekends, but I’m so happy to get to be able to bring a little more enjoyment to our patients outside of the usual weekday hours.