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Art to Heart

Mon, April 16, 2012


It is no secret that art truly makes me happy, and I was so blessed to be able to share that joy with some pretty amazing children a few weeks ago. I cannot fully describe what a wonderful experience it was to host an art workshop at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Tampa, FL. I will never forget our afternoon spending moments with {and hopefully bringing a little joy and distraction to} some pretty ill children.

I needed some assistance with the art supplies, so my sister Marcie joined me, along with our friend Nancy Click. We arrived and found tables and chairs set up in the sunny, brightly colored hospital lobby, the tables covered in butcher paper. We brought with us sketch books, crayons & colored pencils which were gifts for the children to use during the art party and to take back with them to their rooms to enjoy as they wished.

We were advised by the director that children of all ages would come and go as they were able and that we should expect a wide variety of attention spans depending on how the children felt. As the children arrived we got busy, prompting them to draw whatever it was that made them happy. What a ride range of artwork came from that!

They drew rainbows, hearts, suns {and a boat riding in the ocean with jumping dolphins, fish, piano keys, and some abstracts from an enthusiastic 4 year old participant}. Their eyes really lit up when we told them their artwork may be chosen to be included on gift cards to be sold in the hospital gift shop.

The children kept coming and soon another table was set up to accommodate everyone. A sell out! We then showed them another gift we brought for each family, a Happy Everything Mini Platter with a Sunshine Attachment. The Coton Colors art team provided different wooden shapes and paint for the children to create their own attachments. Each of them really enjoyed diving in with paint brushes and colorful paints to create their very own pieces of art to attach.

It was so enjoyable watching each child approach their artwork differently. Some very hesitant and careful to begin, thinking and thinking about what truly made them happy, others diving in with gusto choosing every single crayon in the box and creating and creating and creating numerous works of art. The children ranged in age from 3 to about 18.

I was {as usual whenever I work with children creating art} so very impressed with some of the serious talent shown by children of such a young age. The volunteers and staff of the art therapy team were so helpful, as we worked around IV poles, IV’s and wheelchairs as the kids worked through the different projects. They were surprised that the children stayed with us so long. We were delighted!

It ended with children leaving with what I hope will bring them a little bit of happy in the long days, weeks and months to come, filled with the tedium, pain and stress of treatment. One little boy broke out in tears when he had to leave behind his paint cups. Problem quickly solved when Nancy handed him one cup, then another cup and another cup {at his insistence to not leave behind ANY color!}. The cups were stacked high filled with acrylic paint, him clutching them to his chest. Oops! His t-shirt won’t recover but it sure made him happy!

What an honor it was for me to be there to spend time with the children and families of St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital. It was an incredible and inspirational event and I look forward to doing it again very soon!


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