The Art of Healing

Featuring Second Lady Karen Pence, Sen. Patrick Leahy and others

Advocates say art therapy is an effective tool to help young cancer patients and their families cope with the stress of disease and treatment. Tracy's Kids is a nonprofit focused on supporting these young patients through art therapy and awareness-raising events like its annual "And the Winner Is" fundraiser. Highlights include commentary from Second Lady Karen Pence; Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.; and his wife Marcelle Leahy, Tracy's Kids board member.

Posted on:

May 13, 2019

Produced by: National Newsmakers Team

Vazquez: Hello. I'm Yolanda Vazquez, and welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers," coming to you once again from the annual red carpet event to benefit Tracy's Kids, an art-therapy program that helps kids cope with cancer.

Pence: We call it "Healing with the HeART," because art therapy heals these kids from the inside out.

Cohen: That's what's so wonderful about Tracy's Kids program. Gerson: It's really nice to watch some of these relationships. They just establish a connection with the art therapist... Girl: You're making a heart. I just noticed. Gerson: ...where they can talk and emote and really explain what they're afraid of.

Councill: The first goal is to hear the child, and to really let them be telling us what they need.

Ashton: We focus on "What are we gonna make today? What are we gonna paint today? What are we gonna craft today? What are you in the mood to do?" And that's what we get to talk about.

Van Hollen: If you can imagine a child that's having to go through all the treatments that come with childhood cancer, it can be painful. It can be a struggle. And so, when somebody comes in and provides you with art therapy, it changes your day entirely. And, you know, it provides a little refuge at a time of great struggle.

Pence: The way they help these kids -- it's really a beautiful thing to watch. Cohen: It's just that little increment of joy and toleration that makes us so passionately committed to Tracy's Kids, and to supporting the program. Man: These are Elise's paintings. This one got entered into a show, right? Uh-huh.

Elise: I did that one, too.

Man: And that one was recently in a show. This was -- We took a Make-A-Wish trip to South Africa in the summer. And so, she painted this just before we went.

Elise: I just painted some stuff that comes randomly out of my mind.

Marcelle: It allows them to express the feelings that they're having that they can't necessarily put into words. Sometimes, they can draw it, and they don't even know it.

Patrick: You look at some of the art -- It's all different. But it's what is in their heart, what's in their soul, and what might make them better.

Gedney: It makes a big difference to us for her to be able to actually enjoy going to the hospital, when it normally wouldn't be a very enjoyable experience.

Vazquez: How difficult is it, sometimes, to go through what you're going through?

Elise: Um, sometimes difficult.

Cohen: They're confronting the number-one challenge of their young lives, but they're bound and determined that they're gonna beat the cancer. And I think the play therapy helps to give them a positive outlook, and it helps to make the entire grueling experience more manageable.

Pence: We are so excited. We partnered with Walter Reed on some research, and what they're learning is that art therapy really does change the brain. It changes cell structure, it reduces anxiety. And so, we're excited to be able to have a Tracy's Kids program for children who actually are experiencing some of those issues.

Cohen: Once you've met some of the kids, once you've met some of the families, it's unthinkable to walk away.

Marcelle: The kids are our future. We need to take care of them and make them well again so they can be the healthy, productive human beings that they're destined to be.

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