Reflections on Childhood Cancer Awareness Month


From a Tracy’s Kids Participant

We were asked to contribute a guest blog to the site of an organization called the Cancer Knowledge Network. Web: .

Here’s the link to what Tracy wrote:

Globetrotter meets Peep!


Today our friends at Hope for Henry brought Harlem Globetrotter player Bull Bullard to visit patients in the hospital and clinic. When he stopped by we were hard at work on our (top secret) entry in the Washington Post magazine Peeps contest. Bull asked if he could try his hand at making a special peep and he joined the kids at the art table. He chose a giant white bunny and made it into the good-looking character below. Maybe a self-portrait? Peep-terature Portraiture??photo 1




Ready to Peep!

What inspiration will marshmallow chicks and bunnies bring to Tracy’s Kids this year? Last year our entry in the Washington Post Magazine’s Peeps Diorama Contest depicted some valiant teens saving a Sol Lewitt drawing from falling off the wall at the National Gallery– and though we didn’t win, we  made the Kids’ Post. This year, who knows?? We’re stocked up on Peeps and ready to brainstorm.

Ready to Peep!

Ready to Peep!

Silent Auction Art!

The format for tomorrow night’s Tracy’s Kids Red Carpet Fundraiser will include a silent auction of some very special Washington, DC-themed works of art. Five are by groups of kids working together at the Tracy’s Kids locations, two by artists who are friends of Tracy’s Kids, and the other by Tracy Councill.  For a sneak peek at the items, take a look at the photos and descriptions below. Hope to see you there!Fourth of July Monument

1. Washington Monument on the Fourth of July: 38 inches wide and 60 inches tall, acrylic paint on unstretched canvas. Created by patients at the Lombardi Cancer Center, working collaboratively using syringes and hospital equipment, in addition to conventional art materials, to  pay homage to the Monument in its scaffolding during renovation.
Cherry Blossom Monument
2. Washington Monument at Cherry Blossom Time: 37 inches wide and 60 inches tall, acrylic paint on unstretched canvas. Created by patients at the Lombardi Cancer Center, working collaboratively using Operating Room sponges create the effect of the blocks the Monument is made of, and hospital toothbrushes to make the cherry blossoms, in addition to conventional art materials.
Washington Monument Kite Festival
3.Washington Monument during the Kite Festival: 39 inches wide and 60 inches tall,  acrylic paint on unstretched canvas. Created by patients at the Lombardi Cancer Center, working collaboratively using Operating Room sponges create the effect of the blocks the Monument is made of, in addition to conventional art materials. Each participant designed an origami paper kite to represent him or herself,  flying around the monument grounds.
DC Skyline
4. Washington Skyline Composite Painting: 40 inches wide and 36 inches tall (approximate), assemblage of canvas boards, acrylic and mixed media, mounted on foam core. Painting was created by inpatients and outpatients at Children’s National Medical Center, showing the Washington DC skyline as visible from their hospital windows.
5. The Alamo: 38 inches wide and 27 inches tall, assemblage of canvas boards, acrylic and marker, mounted on foam core. Created by patients and families members at the newest Tracy’s Kids program at Methodist Children’s Hospital, San Antonio, TX. Even kids in isolation for Bone Marrow Transplant could participate in this group project because the individual canvases were painted separately and put together after!
Jefferson Memorial
6. The Jefferson Memorial at Cherry Blossom Time: 16×20 inches framed, soft pastels on paper. This pastel painting was created especially for this event by TK Program Director, Tracy Councill. Tracy earned her BFA in Painting and Printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University and her MA in Art Therapy from The George Washington University. In addition to her work with Tracy’s Kids, she continues to create and show her own drawings, paintings and block prints.
Light Square
7. Light Square #2: 30×30 inches, Acrylic and molding paste on canvas, by Kari Kant, Kari Kant is a professional artist based in Washington, D.C. with a studio in the Newseum Residences. Influenced by Post-Impressionist artists such as Vincent Van Gogh she has adapted techniques such as the thick application of paint and the distortion of form for expressive effect to create her own unique use of texture and color.
Washington DC at Night
8. Washington DC at Night: 30×40 inches, Acrylic on Canvas,  by Sabra Rodgers, age 11.  Sabra is an evolving artist from McLean, VA who has donated her time and work to Tracy’s Kids. This piece is her latest contribution.

World Cancer Day

According to the “Purple Your Profile” campaign on Facebook, today, February 4, is World Cancer Day. The “purple” thing is a campaign by Chevrolet to support the American Cancer Society:, but it got me thinking about what we at Tracy’s Kids can add to the conversation.

We work with pediatric cancer patients and their families–but until I began working at Lombardi over twenty years ago I, like most people, really didn’t understand that kids could get cancer. Yet it is estimated that in 2007 one in every 1,000 young adults in the US was a childhood cancer survivor (Shrag, N. M., McKeown, R. E., Jackson, K. L.,  Cuffe, S. P.,  Neuberg, R. W. (2008).Stress-related mental disorders in childhood cancer survivors. Pediatric Blood Cancer,50, 98-103.)  Advances in medicine have made many childhood cancers treatable chronic illnesses, and research is making these treatments better all the time.

What we do at Tracy’s Kids isn’t cancer treatment, but it helps kids and families manage the treatment better. Despite advances, cancer treatment, especially for children, is long and intense–requiring many hours in the clinic or hospital–and time away from school and friends. Through art and play we help kids and families process all the new information and changes in their routine that a cancer diagnosis brings. And we also help them rebuild their sense of who they are. A serious medical condition has a way of taking over a person’s identity–you go from “I’m a fourth-grader who likes to play Angry Birds” to “I’m a Cancer Patient–and my parents are really worried.” But working creatively in the treatment center changes how kids experience themselves–with our support they can relax, feel more normal, forget about the treatment and focus on what makes them unique. We’ve had kids who never really cared for art find gifts they never knew they had and continue to express themselves through art long after their cancer treatment is over.

Visual language is a powerful tool for expression and connection–a bridge from one person to another–and a bridge that you can walk over time and again, even from a distance, by understanding and appreciating the images that people create. So, from the kids in the hospitals we work with, here are some visual messages on World Cancer Day.


Felting- A Universal Language

As the snow fell outside the hospital today our patients were busy creating colorful, snuggly felted scarves.



One little boy from Afghanistan particularly enjoyed the felting process. As he lay the bright red wool onto the table he smiled and called to his mom to come look at what he was creating. As his mom watched, he pulled little tufts of the soft material apart and carefully laid them on top of one another. His mom enjoyed watching the process, she shared that back home, in Afghanistan, they use the same felting process to make beautiful carpets.



afghan rug


This is the wonderful nature of art- the creation process and the materials are often a bridge between so many different cultures. Art, in this case, brought a little reminder of home to the clinic for this family.

Gallery Talk January 19: Children’s Art, How to Appreciate, Enjoy and Display It





Join Tracy Councill, Tracy’s Kids founder and art therapist, Kathryn Horn Coneway, art therapist and art educator, and Shazalynn Cavin-Winfrey, Interior Designer, for an informal gallery talk about the significance of children’s art. Parents, grandparents, and kids’ art afficionados will enjoy an in-depth discussion of the developmental, emotional and aesthetic dimensions of children’s art.

Seating is limited and available on a first-come first-served basis.
Refreshments courtesy of Geppetto Catering. 
For information on making a donation to Tracys Kids, go to

Tracy Councill started an art therapy program in 1991 for patients and families in pediatric hematology-oncology at Georgetown University Hospital’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, with a grant from the Prevent Cancer Foundation. That highly successful program evolved into Tracy’s Kids (, a non-profit organization dedicated to developing and sustaining art therapy programs for pediatric hematology-oncology patients and their families, with programs in four locations. Councill earned her MA in Art Therapy from The George Washington University in 1988. She serves as lead art therapist in the Tracy’s Kids program at Lombardi and as Program Director for Tracy’s Kids, in addition to teaching Medical Art Therapy at the George Washington University.

Kathryn Horn Coneway is the co-founder and director of Art at the Center (, a studio lab for children and families in Alexandria, Virginia. Kathryn released two new picture books in 2013. Oops Paint, aimed at toddlers and preschool children, introduces stamping with everyday objects through a fun story of a family accidentally dropping things in paint. COLLETTE A Collage Adventure, tells the story of a bottle of glue who wants to get in on the artistic action in a painter’s studio. A visit from a young girl leads the two to discover the expressive possibilities of collage. Kathryn earned her MA in Art Therapy from George Washington University in 2003 and interned at Lombardi Cancer Center while a student. She will be selling and signing books at the talk, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Tracy’s Kids program.

Shazalynn Cavin-Winfrey, owner and lead designer of SCW Interiors (, has had a lifelong passion for design with nearly 20 years of professional experience in the industry. A native of the Southwest, Shazalynn studied at the University of Texas, the Culinary Institute of America and Parsons School of Design. SCW Interiors is a full-service design firm specializing in innovative and distinctive spaces that incorporate signature elements for each client. Located in the Washington, DC area, SCW services a wide geographic area and works with both residential and commercial clients.

This event is concurrent with Artwork by Tracy’s Kids, on view at the Carroll Square Gallery through January 24, 2014.

Carroll Square Gallery
975 F Street NW, Washington DC 20004

Gallery Open During Business Hours: Monday through Friday, 8:00am – 6:00pm

Image: Artwork by Tracy’s Kids, Carroll Square Gallery, 2014 (Installation View)

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And here is a link to a recent article on Kathryn Horn Coneway and her two new books.

The Washington Nationals visit Georgetown!

Our friends at Hope for Henry invited the Washington Nationals to visit clinic today, and it was awesome! Ross Detwiler, Denard Span and Screech hung out with the kids, signed autographs, colored  Christmas ornaments and decorated cookies– and most of all helped the kids decorate a gingerbread version of Nationals Park (Tracy and Kate’s contribution to the event) that featured a custom-printed Jumbotron with all our logos on it! Thanks, everybody, for making it such a great time!

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Holiday Train Time

Bridge Eiffel Tower Fountain Ladybug train Purple track Thomas Group twoThis post is for all our train buddies at the clinics. On Thursday night I went to see the Holday Train at the US Botanic Garden, right near the US Capitol. Every year in the East Gallery they put up a fanciful landscape of mountains, caves, and dramatic vistas adorned with marvelous architecture–all crafted out of natural materials and threaded with train tracks with model trains zooming around. This year the theme is “World’s Fair,” so you can see the Eiffel Tower, the Space Needle, the London Eye, and all kinds of other great stuff  ingeniously crafted out of sticks and pine cones–and some delightful fairy houses crafted in amazing detail–right down to the seashell bathtubs! And did I mention that this year the trains include Thomas, Percy and Gordon? I hope many of our train fans can see the exhibit–it’s free and open daily until January 5–and on Tuesdays and Thursdays in December until 8:00 pm.

Tracy’s Kids at Carroll Square



Make your plans now to attend the Tracy’s Kids exhibit at Carroll Square Gallery, 975 F St in Washington, DC. The opening reception will be December 13 from 4:30-6:30 p.m., and in addition to some great art and refreshments we will have a little art project for you to make and take home!


This year our young artists have made some special group projects interpreting famous sights in Washington and San Antonio, so come check out some new views on famous landmarks! The show will be up until January 24, and we are planning a special gallery talk by a panel of experts on children’s art for a weekend afternoon in January–stay tuned for details!