Your donations: Art, Music, and Pet Therapy for the kids at Children’s Hospital Seattle

One of many ways your donations are working for lives affected by cancer…. The $24,000 grant by John Wayne Cancer Foundation and Kiteboarding 4 Cancer from donor funds provided over 600 hours of art and music therapy for child cancer patients in 2009! That is approximately 29 weeks of Art and Music Therapy support for cancer patients at 21 hours per week!

About Art & Music Therapy :
Music and art therapy are extremely beneficial programs to have in a pediatric institution. They can provide many different kinds of intervention and support that meet a wide range of developmental needs. Art and music can be passive, as you would see with the child drawing on their own or the patient listening to music on headphones while resting quietly, or active, as you would see with a group of patients all contributing their talents to create a sculpture out of medical equipment, or a patient playing an instrument along with the music therapist. In an institution like Seattle Children’s Hospital that promotes family centered care, art and music provide opportunities for patients, siblings, caregivers and other family members to engage in pleasurable activities together that promote adjustment and coping for the whole family.

One of Scott's many masterpieces created in his hospital bed at Children's.

Some patients may find it difficult to express themselves with words.  The process of making art or music offers other, sometimes less threatening, avenues to share their thoughts and feelings with those around them.  Having highly trained professionals provide these interventions ensures that Children’s is adequately assessing the needs of individuals, providing the optimal creative experience and appropriately understanding and interpreting the work.  In addition, art and music can provide comfort, recreation and distraction.  Patients working with the music therapist may choose to just listen to soothing music as a way of relaxing, or they may choose to beat on a drum to release energy or anger.

Art projects can take many forms.  For example, one patient chose to make a mobile with pictures of Hawaii that she cut from magazines.  She used this mobile to provide distraction when she was having medical procedures, saying that when she looked at it she was able to remember fun family vacations in Hawaii instead of concentrating on the treatment that was happening.  Both art and music are often used with patients who are dealing with a terminal illness as a means of “legacy building”.  Many beautiful items, including artwork, music, and scrapbooks have been made and given to family members as a remembrance.  Children’s music therapist was able to have one teenage cancer patient’s original piano music professionally recorded on CD. Awesome! The music was given to the family and played at the young man’s funeral service.

Why KB4C chose Child Life at Children’s Hospital:
In early 2008, the Child Life program at Children’s Hospital Seattle was severly underfunded, and on the verge of staff and program cuts. This is something I found hard to swallow coming from one of the top children’s hospitals in the heart of Seattle, with a very active and generous fundraising community. In fact, the Seattle Children’s Hospital Guild Association is the largest all-volunteer fundraising network for any hospital in the nation.

Researching about guild funds, I learned that nearly all guilds fund uncompensated care, which allows Children’s to care for all children in the region regardless of their families’ ability to pay. This is the focus of the guild association’s philanthropic efforts as insurance can run out terribly quickly once a child is in a long-term stay situation. Uncompensated Care cares for and saves lives.

With this in mind, we wanted to fund a program that had a direct and tangible impact on the children to help the healing process. After my brother went through treatment at Children’s, his art helped him get through a great deal of treatments. Art became a calming process and method of expression and release him. Although he didn’t make it, art was a huge part of his days at Children’s Hospital. Knowing this, we wanted to fund a program that my brother would have found beneficial had he still been in the hospital.

The Canvas
Just before his cancer came back, my brother painted this for my birthday.

Here enters Child Life. Through Therapeutic play, Art therapy, Music Therapy, and Pet Visit Partners, the Child Life program at Children’s promotes healing and helps children express feelings and cope with pain. The art and music therapists work with patients at the bedside, as well as in small groups in the playroom. They also work in the hospital school program, implementing art projects with patients who are receiving hospital school services. The Pet Partners visit most of the hospital units. Lastly, the Teen Zone offers a sanctuary for teens and their siblings 12 years and older with video games, computers, a foosball table, board games, and arts and crafts.

With the help of the John Wayne Cancer Foundation and Kiteboarding 4 Cancer, Child Life has been able to continue providing healing through art and activity. Thank you to all of our wonderful donors who helped make this happen.

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