Empathy is Priceless

'Friendship Trail' Map from Ground to Clouds

Empathy is a priceless spiritual commodity, and Kids & Art is an empathy generator. The foundation's promise is to create an empathetic environment of caring and support while giving children battling cancer a chance to create an imaginative alternative to the difficult road their life experience has become.

Kids & Art gives artists a chance to express and strengthen their ability to empathize by providing a community where kids, with the artist's participation, are able to create a fun imagined world. You will see one little boy's enjoyment and pride in accomplishment in the photos below.

Jared's Map

Jared and his mom came to my studio to create a painting. He's been in treatment for much of his short life, and a creative break allowed him to paint himself into wonderful fantasy world of his own. First he put down a few splotches of his favorite color... blue. I myself love to make crazy maps, so that's what we did. The blue blotch became Jared's house on a piece of canvas that would shortly become a map.

“Who is your best friend?” “Arthur.” “Well then lets make a trail to Arthur’s house.”

A line to a red house-shaped blotch became a trail to Arthur’s house. More was revealed as we talked. Jared and Arthur love to walk together, so a set of walking trails formed as we build a visual story. The boys imaginary walk followed a trail Jared made to the ocean where they befriended a dolphin. It accompanied them through the day, with a stop-off at a candy store. They all ended up in a swimming pool before following a trail back home. Jared's final embellishments added airplanes flying high in the clouds on a mission to deliver candy to the store (left bottom in the painting) from above. It will never ever run out of sweets.

I noticed Jared had difficulty making lines with his pen and brush. His motor systems have been punished by the chemotherapy. He persisted diligently, and with an effort that evoked my empathy, worked through this difficulty and smiled brightly with each hard-won accomplishment.

In the end Jared got a break from his ordeal and created a wonderful artwork. I, like all artists who volunteer for Kids & Art, walked away with so much more that I could ever bring to the party.


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