Eleven-year-old Sarah Giordani (leukemia), and 12-year-old Amani Wright (sickle cell disease), were among the young patients with cancer and blood disorders learning origami from artist Josie Gonzalez at the launch of ArtWorks Intensive Creative Artist In Residence (Intensive CAIR) Program in the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Department at The Brooklyn Hospital Center (TBHC).
The event inaugurates a weekly, six-month-long, three-hour Monday workshop that will teach children to express themselves creatively to help the healing process and reduce stress and anxiety. Sponsored by ArtWorks, The Naomi Cohain Foundation, the program brings quality creative arts workshops to the hospital setting for children and young adults suffering from chronic and life-threatening conditions and their families. Workshop leaders are professional artists that are trained to work with the pediatric population in the hospital setting.
According to Dr. Swayam Sadanadan, Chief of TBHC’s Pediatric Oncology/ Hematology Division, TBHC is Brooklyn’s only Children’s Oncology Group member, and provides state-of-the-art compassionate medical care to children and adolescents with blood disorders and cancer, the majority of whom receive some form of public assistance.
“We are delighted that ArtWorks is bringing this wonderful program to the children at The Brooklyn Hospital Center,” says Dr. Sadanadan. “Being treated for cancer or a blood disorders is difficult for children and their families. This program will help our patients express their feeling and have fun at the same time.”
“We are very pleased to bring this hands-on art program to The Brooklyn Hospital Center’s young patients as they go through this difficult time,” says ArtWorks Executive Director Daniela Mendelsohn, who notes that collaborative creative arts activities have been proven to reduce stress and anxiety, decrease attention to pain, and normalize the hospital experience for young patients and their families. “ArtWorks has witnessed the profound impact the Intensive CAIR program has on patients, their families and hospital staff by encouraging children to use the creative process as a vehicle for healing, communication, self-expression and personal development.”
Intensive CAIR offers families social opportunities to interact with other children and families in similar situations and take comfort in shared experiences, and encourages interaction between patients and hospital staff in a forum that focuses on patients’ unique individual creativity rather than their illness.
As TBHC’s artist-in-residence, Ms. Gonzalez, will conduct the three-hour, weekly workshops, which include origami, scrapbooking, mask making, designing bookmarks, storytelling, puppet making and collage. These activities teach patients new skills, help them explore new materials, keep them active and engaged and give them opportunities to express and communicate their thoughts and experiences in a creative and positive way.