On Monday, Nov. 19, Kaiser Hospital’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit was transformed to a place filled with music, laughter, arts and crafts and sights most people don’t normally associate with hospitals.
The revamped space served as home to Starting Arts’ 2nd Annual Autumn Arts Gathering. A San Jose-based non-profit focused on performing arts, Starting Arts developed a program called Healing Arts to provide one-on-one and small group lessons in music, theater and visual arts to pediatric patients at Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara. The Autumn Arts Gathering is part of the Healing Arts program.
Life in a hospital as a patient can be challenging, but when the patient is a child, that challenge can also be scary and filled with the unknown. It can also be difficult for families to see their little loved ones confined to a hospital room. Smiles, laughter and general fun times are difficult to come by, given the limitations that come with hospital stays, however brief. Hospital gowns, IV stands, bandages, splints are things most children don’t see in their normal day-to-day life, yet they’re very real to children who are hospitalized.
Given the chance to make crafts, sing songs and be a kid again, even for just a few hours, can make a huge difference for the children and their families. That’s what was behind this year’s Starting Arts’ Autumn Arts Gathering: to give children and their families a chance to have fun, to give the young patients a chance to be kids playing, singing fun songs and getting out of their hospital rooms and away from their normal routines.
Chloe, a nine-year-old patient, looked shy and cautious when she first came to the gathering, but within a few minutes, she was busy making arts and crafts and occupying herself with both of her younger brothers. Her face lit up at the chance to be a kid, to forget the constant reminders of being in a hospital.
Sydney was visiting her brother Harvey, a patient at Kaiser. Together, they worked on arts and crafts and, if it weren’t for the surroundings and the hospital items, the scene could just as easily have taken place anywhere else.
The Autumn Arts Gathering is the result of a partnership between Starting Arts and Kaiser Permanente. Both inpatients and outpatients took part in the fun as well as some hospital staff members. For more information on Starting Arts, visit their website www.StartingArts.com.