The Healing Power of Art Therapy

A childhood cancer patient participating in a Tracy's Kids program receiving a bow headband this past holiday season, provided through a special CCCA donation match initiative. Did you know that today is Inspire Your Heart with Art Day? It's one of those made-up annual "holidays" that happened to catch our attention this year, and we thought it would be a great opportunity to highlight just a few of the many terrific childhood cancer organizations out there that use the arts to help kids deal with the emotional toll of their treatment or survivorship. Art therapy (and music therapy) has been shown to help reduce pain and anxiety in cancer patients, and help children express feelings they might otherwise have difficulty communicating.

tracyskidsTracy's Kids is an arts therapy program for kids with cancer that currently operates in three DC-area children's hospitals and one hospital in San Antonio, Texas. The mission of Tracy's Kids is to ensure that children are emotionally equipped to fight their cancer and also to embark on their post-treatment lives as survivors. Tracy's Kids engages patients, siblings and parents in their art programs to help the whole family cope and engage in healthy creative expression.

ryanslightRyan's Light and Rock Against Cancer - These are two terrific organizations that focus on music therapy for children with cancer. Ryan's Light has established a music therapy program in Hawaii and provides ukuleles to children undergoing treatment. (We featured the story of Ryan Wagner, the inspiration for Ryan's Light, on this blog several months ago, and it's a powerful read in his mother's own words, if you missed it before). Rock Against Cancer provides music therapy in eight treatment centers around the country, and also gives teenage patients unique opportunities to enjoy concerts and meet musical artists.

pablove-shutterbugsPablove Shutterbugs is a program that teaches the art of photography to children with cancer. Through workshops, camps and multi-week educational programs, children in the program receive their own camera equipment and hands-on instruction on photography, designed to help the young photographers develop a unique creative skill.

cancerhousefortheartsAnd, finally, Children's Cancer House for the Arts is a retreat facility in Wisconsin that offers free therapeutic services and arts seminars for children with cancer and other serious illnesses, with a focus on nature, creative expression, drama and fine arts. Every September, they host a one-week program called Miracle Week that caters to each child's unique dreams and talents.

Do you know of other great art therapy programs out there for kids with cancer? Share in the comments!