Several years ago when Purvi and I met at Family House across the street from the old UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, I truly had no idea of the wonderful gift that would come from that one, brief encounter. I was a newer art therapist to the hospital still learning the ropes of running a program. I did not realize at the time that the newfound relationship with Kids & Art would eventually lead to a wonderful partnership supporting our out-patient clinics at Mission Bay.
Back on that day at Family House, I remember Purvi and her team facilitating a printmaking activity that had all of the participants focused and excited. The Kids & Art team impressed me with their manpower and with their thoughtfully planned project meant to include everyone, regardless of age or ability level. Inspired, I immediately thought about ways to replicate a similar activity for the in-patient population that I worked with at the hospital.
It wouldn’t be until several years later, after the Benioff Children’s Hospital relocated to the Mission Bay campus that Purvi and I would connect once again. Throughout that gap in time, Purvi continued to keep in touch, sending information about amazing, free workshops for patients and siblings. I was excited to extend these opportunities to families I worked with, and I was intrigued with the work Kids & Art were doing. When the opportunity came up for Kids & Art to pilot a program with our out-patient clinics at UCSF, I knew we needed to get on board.
Each week, the Kids & Art team arrives to our Mission Bay out-patient clinics prepared and enthusiastic, always bringing with them positive energy and innovative and fun art projects. Typically, the waiting rooms are filled with bored and anxious kids waiting to be called in for their appointments, siblings hanging onto their parents wanting to have a moment of connection, and parents overwhelmed by the possible outcome of the visit while juggling endless lists of to-dos. On the days Kids & Art are there, I often see a shift in the energy of the rooms.
I have witnessed countless moments of joy as children create art and escape from their worries and thoughts. I have seen tremendous pride as patients and siblings shared their creations, and I have observed sighs of relief and looks of gratitude as parents get a moment to breath and to experience their children being children. The presence of Kids & Art in our clinics affects the patients, the siblings, the entire family and even the staff. On multiple occasions, doctors and nurses have asked how this offering came to be and how it can increase in frequency. They see firsthand the benefits of a creative outlet to support families during their wait. Staff walking through the waiting areas now stop, pause, and smile as they go forward with their day.
The impact that Kids & Art make in our out-patient clinics is immediate and lasting, and I am filled with so much gratitude that our one meeting so long ago resulted in such a meaningful and wonderful gift for so many.