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Art with Heart

Art with Heart is a local, nonprofit organization whose therapeutic activity books for children and adolescents are designed to reduce patient anxiety, increase coping skills and strengthen emotional development, which are all critical steps for children recovering from illness.

Since 2002, Art with Heart has helped children who are affected by cancer either as a patient or as a child or sibling of a family member who is being treated for cancer at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance or Seattle Children's.

Art with Heart provides tools that encourage children to express their suffering and their strength, allowing them to successfully deal with the intense emotions that emerge during an extended illness and, at the same time, increase their emotional wellness.

The books mentioned below are all available at the Art with Heart Shop. Proceeds benefit Art with Heart programs that benefit underserved youth.

Chill & Spill

Diane is a 17-year-old leukemia patient: “There are days when things are really bothering me, and Chill & Spill gives me a good place to put everything down. I use it a lot to write about things that make me frustrated. Sometimes doctors do or say things that make me really mad, but instead of being mad, I can just write in Chill & Spill until I feel better...”

This innovative, guided, therapeutic journal was designed to benefit teens and ’tweens affected by stressors such as illness, death, abuse and familial discord. Chill & Spill helps reduce the symptoms of trauma, facilitates healing, promotes positive coping skills and builds self-confidence. Chill & Spill’s layout brings the user on a progressive journey of self-discovery, beginning with non-threatening, confidence-building activities that slowly lead towards trauma exploration, and then out again into inspirational and aspirational goal-setting.

Chill & Spill is effective because it gives youth a safe place for complete and total expression. It allows them to become active participants in their own healing, communicate grief and loss, and see themselves as survivors rather than victims. It works because it is an accessible and immediate resource and is based in cognitive behavioral, narrative and art therapy.

Art with Heart offers a leader’s companion to help promote the best use of the book, along with training for therapists, social workers and other youth-centric professionals.

Oodles of Doodles

Chris is 11 years old and a frequent patient at Children’s: “When I’m in pain, I go through [Oodles], and it gets my mind off the pain and helps me relax and have fun .... This is a good thing for kids because it’s creative and gets you thinking and feeling better.”

Art with Heart’s Oodles of Doodles activity book offers more than 40 engaging activities based in art therapy. Designed to help children communicate their feelings through pages that encourage communication and imagination. Hidden behind the colorful imagery are therapeutic benefits that give them back a much-needed sense of control and a safe place to express their fears and worries.

Oodles has been endorsed by the LIVESTRONG Foundation, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Starlight Foundation for Children and Society for the Arts in Healthcare, and it enjoys success in an estimated 500 hospitals across North America that routinely utilize Oodles with children in their care.

For ages 12 and under. Also available in Spanish.

Don’t Forget the Siblings!

Jennifer was 10 years old when her two-year-old brother was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor: “I felt like I disappeared during that time and for a long time after. My family was so focused on him and his illness that there was no time left for me ….”

As the family deals with the illness of one child, siblings oftentimes suffer silently. Overburdened parents find it difficult to balance the needs of the sick child and the healthy siblings, who find themselves feeling confused, lonely, rejected and “invisible.” Because siblings are thought of as capable, they’re often expected to “understand” that their brother’s or sister’s needs come first. As a result, the well siblings experience a range of emotions, including anger, resentment and disappointment as well as guilt. Studies have found these siblings to be at higher risk than others to experience psychological difficulties, such as depression and anxiety, as well as increased risk for aggression.

Art with Heart’s Magnificent Marvelous Me activity book gently encourage siblings to express and resolve conflicting emotions, utilizing therapies designed to help increase emotional resiliency. The primary objectives of this book are to support positive relationships and increased communication within the family and to promote emotional development and adjustment skills.

For ages 12 and under.