The Show, Part 2!

An unexpected opportunity arose late last week when there was a sudden opening in the Lombardi Atrium Gallery schedule. Arts and Humanities Director Nancy Morgan invited us to put up work by the kids–and we had just taken down our show at Carroll Square, so the timing was perfect!

There wasm’t room for everything–no sculptures and only some of the flat work–but it’s a great opportunity to enjoy our kids’ thoughtfulness and creativity a little longer! Please enjoy the photos of the gallery below:

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Beautiful colors by kids from three of our programs

Beautiful colors by kids from three of our programs

Landscapes

Landscapes

Poems, stories, and play on reflection and symmetry

Poems, stories, and play on reflection and symmetry

Very fine drawings!

Very fine drawings!

Thoughts about faces by kids of all ages

Thoughts about faces by kids of all ages

Painted thoughts

Painted thoughts

Community treehouse from CCBD-NoVa clinic!

Community treehouse from CCBD-NoVa clinic!

Beautiful reflections on treatment by a young adult patient

Beautiful reflections on treatment by a young adult patient

Tracy's Kids at Lombardi 2013

Tracy’s Kids at Lombardi 2013

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

AND THE WINNER IS…TRACY’S KIDS!

NEW DATE!

The 8th annual And the Winner Is…Tracy’s Kids event is now taking place in Washington, DC on the evening of

Wednesday, February 13th 2013

 

2012 was another great year for Tracy’s Kids and the children and families we serve. This year we provided some 15,000 free hours of art therapy in five pediatric cancer clinics.  And we have now spent over $2.5 million to help pediatric cancer patients cope with the emotional stress and trauma imposed by cancer and its treatment.
But we could not have done any of it without the financial support from our wonderful friends.
We hope that you will be able to join us at the eighth annual “And the Winner is….” which will take place on Wednesday evening, February 13, 2013.
That evening our guests will once again walk the red carpet before eating, drinking and then watching one of six nominated and award winning films that we screen right in the heart of Hollywood’s award season. 
Thanks to the success of this annual event, the Tracy’s Kids program is offered at no cost to the children we work with at four Washington area clinics – the Children’s National Medical Center in both Washington and Fairfax, the Life With Cancer program at Fairfax/Inova Hospital and the Lombardi Cancer Center at Georgetown University Hospital – plus Methodist Children’s Hospital in San Antonio, Texas.

 

Click here to view the official 2013 invitation: 

Tracy’s Kids Invitation – February 13 2013

 

You can purchase tickets by credit card through our online donation site or with a check by contacting Susan O’Neill & Associates at 301-229-0124 or  TracysKids@ONeillEvent.com.

We hope to see you on the red carpet celebrating Tracy’s Kids on our new night:

Wednesday, February 13th!

Tracy’s Kids at Carroll Square Update

The Tracy’s Kids at Carroll Square show is looking really good. As promised, here are some pictures from the reception. They were taken with Tracy’s phone camera, so they’re not the best quality, but we hope you’ll enjoy them!

Keeping it Clean

The Tracy’s Kids Art Rooms in every location are a welcome oasis of creative chaos in the hospital environment. We like to have a colorful selection of art supplies on hand to inspire young artists. Many kids leave their recent works in the art room for everyone to see.

 

Art Room Display Board at Lombardi

All this is inviting, but since we work with kids with suppressed immune systems, we have to be very careful to keep all this stuff clean. We keep down the clutter as much as we can, sending artwork home or filing it away for safekeeping, but most importantly WE CLEAN!

 Hospital Grade Disinfectant

Every day the art tables, chairs, markers and pencils are cleaned with hospital disinfectant wipes, and EVERYTHING in the area—toys, brushes, containers, clay tools—is cleaned at least once a week. We want the kids to be comfortable and have fun, so we do our best to provide an experience that is both spontaneous and safe!

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.

Dress-up for Grownups

For many of our children, Halloween is a festive and exciting time of year – one that can be especially disheartening for those spending it in the hospital. For some of these kids, the typical childhood “trick or treating” from door to door fades into a dream rather than a sugary reality. So, we make an extra special effort to transform the hospital into something extra special for the holiday – including fun decorations, a fantastic party sponsored by Hope for Henry and staff members who dress up in costumes hoping to get a good laugh out of the kids.

So, during the onslaught of Hurricane Sandy, I set to work creating my Halloween alter-ego…

Elizabeth & Katharine in their Halloween Headgear

It was so much fun putting my costume together – adding each detail and imagining the kids’ reactions. With my pile of felt and my hot glue gun (and a few mild burns), I felt like a little kid again. As art therapists, we typically spend a lot of our time and energy encouraging the children and teenagers we work with to find new ways to express themselves through the act of creating. It is especially wonderful (though not rare) when the children drive us to be more creative.

Reliving the simple joys of just “being a kid” during the rainy days of the hurricane also reinforced the importance of helping our patients to more fully experience their childhoods, especially when they are in the hospital. Each one of the children and adolescents we are privileged to work with is so much more than a diagnosis and a medical record number. The art therapists with Tracy’s Kids get to help children expand the world of the hospital and to cope more effectively through art making, a powerful part of childhood for so many.

Elizabeth Burks: Becoming an art therapist…continued

Although I somehow knew in the back of my mind that art therapy was where I would ultimately find my place in life, the journey there was much less than straight forward.  After college, there was no way I was ready to jump right back into graduate school, so I worked for several years in retail position that required a large amount of creativity with paper goods.  My favorite part of the job was encouraging people to experiment with art materials and to help them feel empowered through instruction and inspiration in any art endeavor.  Eventually, I felt I needed to move away from retail and more toward the aspect of my job that had left me feeling fulfilled. 

I applied to graduate programs and was accepted to the Adler School of Professional Psychology in Chicago, IL.  I especially like the emphasis Adler placed on addressing issues of social exclusion, sending its students into underserved areas of the community for internships.  As I started practicing art therapy as an intern in my second year of graduate school, I was fortunate enough to be placed in an urban hospital working primarily with children.  It was here that I developed the desire to continue working with kids challenged by life-altering illnesses, ultimately leading me to find Tracy’s Kids!

Elizabeth Burks – How I became an art therapist!

For as long as I can remember, I have used art as a means to explore my self and the world around me.  I especially realized the value and benefit of art making as a teenager, grappling with the awkwardness and confusion that comes with personal growth during the transition to young adulthood.  I began to discover the power of art as a tool for communication.  It was so much easier to communicate my thoughts and feelings when I could refer to a tangible piece of expressive art. 

 In college, I had a very difficult time choosing a major – a decision that in retrospect should have been quite straightforward.  My parents encouraged me to pursue art, but to set myself up so that I could successfully support myself after graduating.  When I finally realized that all of the classes that interested me were in the psychology department, I had my answer.  I majored in psychology and minored in art, a combination that was a perfect fit for me. 

 Growing up, I had never known that art therapy was a professional field of work.  Throughout my own art making endeavors, I really felt as though I had stumbled upon something brilliant – the use of art as a catalyst for introspection and processing of emotion and life events, big or small.  I couldn’t help but wonder how the field of psychology wasn’t all over this!  It was not until flipping through a catalogue of graduate classes that I simultaneously had my “AHA!” moment and discovered that I had, in fact, not been the first person to discover art therapy.  

 To be continued…