The following is a news story about art therapy with coverage of Tracy Councill and Tracy’s Kids. Lisa Sylvester and CNN report on the role that art therapy plays in health care.
Art Therapy in Health Care Video
Art Therapy in Health Care Transcript
Medicine for the Mind – Putting a little art in health care.
While the health care debate rages in Washington, people outside the halls of Congress are doing their part to find inventive ways to make sure the sick are cared for – especially children. The treatment may sound unconventional, but to many patients, they love the outlet. It’s called art therapy. Lisa Sylvester has the remarkable story of Tracy’s Kids.
Pink is Elle Howdershell’s favorite color. She wears it just about everywhere she goes. Today Elle is working on a new playhouse. A place of fun, imagination, her own little getaway at the Georgetown University at the Lombardi Cancer Center.
Lisa: “Do you like coming here Elle?”
Lisa: “What do you like best about coming here?”
Elle: “Because you have fun.”
Diagnosed when she was just 5 with a benign brain tumor, Elle at 7 is still undergoing treatment. Art is used to help put her and other young patients at ease.
Brian Howdershell (Elle’s father): “…It’s a very soothing thing for her and it’s a good…for her it’s something that really occupies her mind off of what she has to do and what we’re really here for. It’s a good thing, it really is a good thing.”
In the Washington D.C. area Tracy Councill has started Tracy’s Kids, an art therapy program that relies on private donations. Colorful wall and ceiling tiles, sculptures, paintings…it’s an expression of the high and low points of the children’s lives. This month their artwork is being showcased at the D.C.’s Carroll Square Gallery.
Tracy Councill: “Colors are language for kids you know? Color is very very expressive.”
This one is a poem called Pincushion. It hits home for Matt Gerson who raises funds for Tracy’s Kids. As a child, he was diagnosed with cancer.
Matt Gerson: “I remember that so vividly…they take your blood, they infuse you, they’re constantly trying to find little veins in little children. And this girl describes it as being a pincushion. (Reading from the poem) Poke and stick / pincushion / that’s me.”
While some of the art is sad, most is uplifiting, hopeful. You know what one of the things that strikes me…is that this is a happy place – despite the fact that you got kids that have serious illnesses – that this is actually a happy bright place.
Tracy: “That’s because kids just see it that way. We give them a chance to just be a kid and not be a patient.”
The children in Tracy’s program probably can’t control what will happen in their future, but art therapy helps now become a little more beautiful.
And according to Tracy Councill, more than 70% of the kids diagnosed with cancer nationwide recover fully. Tracy’s Kids relies on private donors, but the Art Therapy Association is pushing to expand programs like these to have federal research grants to try and bring art therapy into even more communities.