We are honored to write this blog post for Kids & Art and to further our collaboration with this wonderful like-minded organization.
ArtWorks, The Naomi Cohain Foundation, founded in 2002, is dedicated to improving the healthcare experience of pediatric patients through the arts. ArtWorks provides children and young adults from infants to age 24 facing chronic and life-limiting illnesses , and their families, access to creative and performing arts programs that serve as a vehicle for healing, communication, self-expression and person development.
In the 17 years since ArtWorks was founded we have had many wonderful examples of how art is the universal healing tool, no matter what language you speak. We are very proud to be providing this creative outlet for all of the young artists who are waiting to show the world their creativity.
One of our three core programs is our Teaching Artists Program which brings professional artists to create with the children, both one on one at bedside as well as in small groups in art rooms or play rooms in hospitals. Currently we have 26 Teaching Artist programs in 16 of our hospital partner locations. We provide Teaching Artists from various genres including, the fine arts, beat boxing, graffiti, animation, laser painting, song writing, creative writing, theater arts, weaving, collage, percussion and photography.
As ArtWorks Program Director I have the honor to work with all of our wonderful Teaching Artists, the amazing Child Life Specialists at our hospitals and the best part of all, is the opportunity to see how art transforms the isolated world of a child in the hospital into a world where they have the freedom to express themselves.
We receive many beautiful stories from our artists, the children, the Child Life Specialist and the families about how art makes them feel. Here are a few that I would like to share.
From Our Creative Writing Program: “First up was a 7 year old boy who would be having surgery on Monday. The Child Life Team thought he might be anxious about the procedure and that some creative writing could be a good outlet .When I first approached him and told him what I had to offer he said no but then said that he wanted to make a clay story. I had no idea what he was talking about but I got very excited! It turns out somebody had just given him some clay. I asked what he wanted to make with it and he immediately said “a car.” Actually, he wanted me to make the car. With some compromising and coaxing I got him involved with designing the car and making the accessories such as the engine, the windows, the bumper, and the patterns on the tires. He loved it! When it was finished I asked him to tell me about the car and he came up with an amazing story! When I read it back to him the expressions on his face were priceless -- he was laughing and smiling. He also wanted me to read the story to his mom who was in the room and she liked it a lot. I felt that his sometimes naysaying/bossy behavior was his way of feeling in control over something in his life. He was a very sweet and creative child. I would love to work with him again and he said he would like to see us again too.”
From Our Weaving Program: ”A boy who had just turned 7. He was in the clinic near the loom and watching out of the corner of his eye. He was sitting with the school teacher, and he actually did concentrate mostly on his school work, but when he had finished his homework, he bee-lined to the weaving. While another boy was weaving, he was figuring out how the loom worked and was fascinated by it. By the time it was his turn, I showed him briefly how to weave and he was weaving on his own. He was a boy with a mission and he said that he wanted to weave a hotdog. I have never woven with anyone who had an idea of what he wanted to weave from the first time he sat down. He had watched the other boy weave an EKG design and he had observed the attention the EKG had received. He was creative and talented. It will be interesting to work with him again at future visits. He wanted me to come next week!
A Parent’s Perspective: “When the Child Life Specialist told us about ArtWorks, I was ecstatic because it gave my son a chance to shine as a young artist. It became a wonderful outlet for him, as well as, to keep learning basic skills for development. Even weeks before he became an angel, he was creating. Art is the means by which children can create, where there are no right or wrong answers regardless of age, sickness, emotion, etc. ArtWorks helped him to foster his creativity and gave him a place to let people know that behind the ‘bad guy’ was a very creative and loving child with the determination, strength, and will that cannot be matched by any adult with years of experience.”
A Child’s Perspective: “Some words I would like to share with other artists are, don’t be afraid to paint whatever is in your mind, because with art you can express yourself and explore.”
Thank you very much to Kids and Art for this opportunity.
Fran Heyman, Program Director
ArtWorks, The Naomi Cohain Foundation
96 Engle Street
Englewood, New Jersey 07631
Kids & Art Foundation is thankful to have a vast community of artists who create with us. Our artists share their passion for art and their commitment to make the world a better place. Without them we cannot heal pediatric cancer through art.
If you believe in the healing power of artists then please support our artist stipends with your donations and corporate matching. All donations are 100% tax deductible and our EIN is 27-1415727