The impacts of Kids & Art
The walls of our house have always been covered in Art from our now 6 year old daughter. I started taping up a few items when she was very little, but soon she was hanging them herself – the walls, doors, cabinets, fridge, washer, etc. We would find new pieces of art in random places almost daily. Maya is truly the family artist!
On March 15, 2015 our bright, active daughter turned 5 – it was a great day with a big party at Pump It Up with all of her friends. The next afternoon, March 16, 2015, our family was turned upside-down with just one life altering sentence – “Your daughter has Leukemia!” They are impossible words to hear but to turn around and talk to a small child about it is even worse.
We had noticed lately she was more tired and not eating as much, but as we watched her run, jump, slide and eat cake - Cancer was the farthest thing from our mind.
Our precious little girl went from celebrating a typical child's birthday, to Urgent Care, to Stanford ER and to Pediatric Intensive Care in just hours. while sitting in the ER and waiting on all of the test results, one of the first things that happened was a Child Life Specialist gave Maya a bag of art supplies and books. These two items and some Legos, have been what has helped her stay happy and busy during the countless hours and days in the hospital. We have really tried to encouraged art and building activities to keep her mind and fingers active. Kids & Art has been a tremendous resource which really fuels Maya's creative nature.
Up until her Leukemia diagnosis, Maya was a relatively healthy kid. Since diagnosis she has spent 144 nights in the hospital, received 36 blood transfusions, has had 2 major infections, endured many minor infections, and recieved lots and lots of chemo. Our daughter is an amazing, courageous survivor who has never lost her spunk throughout all of this.
Maya has always marched to the beat of her own drum, choosing art and music over sports every step of the way. She even looked to the arts for her “Make A Wish” - choosing to “…be a singer on a Stage, with a Band, in front of an audience, in a yellow dress,” over a trip somewhere Magical. She picked the song, spent countless hours practicing, and worked directly with the dressmaker to choose fabrics and design her spectacular dress. She also helped create the art for her CD cover and then performed in front of over 200 people without nerves, only excitement.
Her best-loved experience with Kids & Art, so far, has been the day at Pixar! She loved exploring all of the different mediums, but making the joy mask was her favorite. She was also thrilled to be able to donate pieces to help raise money - it was so exciting to see her work on display in a Gallery. Most artists wait a lifetime for that experience but at the advanced age of six she had four pieces at the show in June. In addition to just having fun and providing a distraction from the constant medical treatment, and probably the most significant benefit of Kids & Art is the confidence Maya has gained as an artist. Being able to see adults admire and purchase your work, as a 6 year old, is amazing and has pushed her to look for even more ways to be creative in her everyday life.
While Maya’s Leukemia journey will never really be over, art has really been her way to seek something normal and a wonderful way for her to express her feelings about everything going on around and to her. We feel very blessed to be part of the Kids & Art family.