Today is National Children’s Craft Day. Celebrated in connection with National Craft Month, this day raises awareness about the infinite, imaginative possibilities of arts & crafts. We think today is the perfect opportunity to show off some creative art from our patients and highlight the great work of the Alfano Family Arts in Medicine Studio.
We all know that art & crafts are fun. But arts & crafts can help reduce anxiety and stress, especially for our child patients. Nitza Danieli Horner, artist-in-residence at CUMC’s Alfano Family Arts in Medicine Studio, said, “It takes their mind off the tough journey.” When kids are in the Studio, “they are able to direct and choose their own projects” and have “a sense of self-command.”
The Alfano Family Arts in Medicine Studio is an innovative arts program designed to encourage creativity and imaginary play through the use of multiple artistic mediums. The Studio is under the guidance of Nitza, a Metropolitan Museum of Art educator and artist who is affectionately known as “Nitza Pizza.” With the support and funding from the Alfano Family, the Studio holds weekly art sessions with patients and their parents and siblings.
The program makes a huge impact on the kids. For many, coming to “make art” is the highlight of their day. “This program makes the unbearable bearable,” says one patient’s mother. “It makes coming to the clinic fun and I cannot thank them enough for what they have given my son (AND ME!) during this arduous journey.” In addition to providing sessions in the clinic, the Studio holds sessions at the hospital with children receiving inpatient treatment and care.
One thing we emphasize here at Hope & Heroes is that the cancer journey not only affects the child but also the entire family. The Arts in Medicine program provides benefits to parents, caregivers and siblings. Recently, a grandmother was with her grandchild in the seating area and she appeared tired. She was given a small weaving project to do while she waited. During her weaving, she remarked, “This is so relaxing. What great therapy. My day started out very difficult but this has really calmed me down.”
Nitza takes great pride in the work of the Studio. “Creating an empowering environment for all who drop by, while using my tool as an artist is a privilege,” she stated. “Watching kids skip or run over as soon as they come in, many not wanting to go home after treatment—makes my job a life mission.”
So what are some fun things kids can create today? Popular projects include plaster molds and jewelry making. But Nitza suggests that kids and parents, “Do something without direction—no planning and no instruction. Mix colors or put materials together in a creative way. Enjoy the process – it’s all yours!”
To learn more about the Alfano Family Arts in Medicine Studio, click here.