HARK Past: Where We Started
In 2006, a new volunteer arrived at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles’s Artists Program with passion and experience and a love of children. What she found was a dedicated team of artists and musicians providing services under very difficult circumstances.
Supplies were short and funding was shorter. Some days, there was not even a box of crayons to give away to the patients in isolation rooms, yet the volunteer loaded up her red wagon and went to visit the children. She found that the children were so eager to create art that they would work through pain, nausea, and procedures. The patients would paint with IV’s in their hands and breathing tubes and other medical trappings. She knew that if people knew of the need, they would want to support the Artists Program just as she had. She invited dear friends and colleagues to begin a charity dedicated to raising funds for the arts to not only survive but thrive at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
HARK Present: What We’ve Accomplished
We’ve come a long way since those early days when even crayons were in short supply.
The Artists Program now employs a full time Artists Program Lead (who is also a Board Certified Music Therapist), a full-time Art Therapist, a part time Music Therapist and a part time Artist in Residence as well. The clinical Art and Music Therapy team also supervises 2 part-time Art Therapy trainees and 1-2 full-time Music Therapy interns at all times who are valued members of the team. Each inpatient unit receives art therapy and music therapy support each week, which allows patients experiencing anxiety, distress, pain, and coping difficulties to express and explore their thoughts and feelings while exploring creative coping strategies. The clinical Art and Music therapy team is an integral part of the interdisciplinary team at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and works closely with Social Workers, Child Life Specialists, Doctors and Nurses to formulate and support each patient’s specific treatment goals.
The Artists Program Lead also coordinates and trains volunteers to provide entertainment, education, and diversion for the patients throughout the hospital as well. The products of these efforts hang in special exhibits throughout the hospital walls, are published in a quarterly newsletter called Art Beat, and are sometimes donated by the children for fundraising to buy more art supplies. Yes, even the children believe in the importance and power of the art that they are making, and they want other patients to experience it, too. Several of the Artists Program volunteers come from various community foundations and organization.
Through the assistance HARK has brought to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles in offering art as therapy we have come a long way. It all began with a little red wagon pulled by a lone woman, a woman of vision. While we barely had enough crayons for each child to use, we now have grown to offer a qualified therapy team, an art room that is stocked, many volunteers from all over the city, and various foundations to help facilitate our goal.
It does take a village to raise a child and we are so thankful for the love and consciousness that has brought so much life to the very ill children visiting Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
HARK Future: Where We're Going
Our goal is to make the lives a little easier for every child admitted to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and for their family members as well. We want to bring them hope. By using their self expression through the arts these children can share their experiences and reflect on their lives with the people they cherish most. We attempt to bring a large variety of arts to the children, such as live musicians, songwriters, fine artists, entertainers, actors, celebrities, ceramic workshops, painting and much more. Our goal is for the children to experience as much of life as is possible. To make this happen, HARK’s mission is to raise sufficient funds to supply them with musical instruments to learn on, professional therapists in each discipline, art supplies for art projects (enough for every child confined to their bed) or, out and about the hospital and even their visiting siblings who would also like to participate in the art projects. If you would like to make the quality of life for a very ill child a little better, please join our quest.