Project AIM (Arts in Motion)

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Project AIM (Arts in Motion)

Creative Kids Inc.
504 San Francisco Street
El Paso, TX 79901
Phone: 915.533-9575
Fax: 915.533.9575
E-Mail: andrea@creativekidsart.org
URL: www.creativekidsart.org

Focus: Visual Arts

Annual Number Participating: 100

Ages: Elementary, Middle School, High School

Annual Budget: $136,000.00

Partners: City of El Paso Museums and Cultural Affairs Department; El Paso Children’s Hospital; Providence Memorial Hospital; Southwest Airlines; Sun Metro

Funders: El Paso Community Foundation; Hunt Family Foundation; Price’s Creameries; Rio Grande Cancer Foundation; Robert E. and Evelyn McKee Foundation; Texas Commission on the Arts; The Dues Foundation

Patients who are admitted to the pediatric oncology unit at El Paso’s Providence Memorial Hospital receive state-of-the-art cancer treatments, as well as a healing dose of art. Four afternoons a week, artists from an organization called Creative Kids invite young cancer patients into the hospital’s art and digital media studios. Together, they work on painting and printmaking projects, plus graphic-design pieces. Patients who are in isolation, or not well enough to leave their rooms, receive bedside visits from an artist armed with canvases, paints, and brushes.

The purpose of this program, called Project AIM (Arts in Motion), is to incorporate art therapy into the patients’ traditional treatment regimen, to help young people navigate the often-frightening journey through cancer — which can lead to weeks or even months in the hospital.

“Kids who have been diagnosed with cancer often have a hard time understanding what’s going on, and art is a great outlet for young people to get their thoughts and feelings out,” explains Co-Founder and Executive Director Andrea Gates-Ingle. “We like to say that doctors take care of the patient’s physical health and that we take care of their emotional well-being.”

A gallery on the hospital’s pediatric floor displays the young people’s art, providing a source of pride for patients, while enlivening the otherwise sterile hospital environment. Bus shelters throughout the city also showcase some of the patients’ work, as does the Southwest Airlines terminal at the El Paso International Airport.

Members of the public who happen upon pieces by Project AIM participants often can’t believe that young people whose lives have been touched by cancer created the artwork. That reaction points to another objective of the program. Too often, people focus on the “pale, thin child with no hair,” and they need to be reminded of the creative being at that child’s core, explains Gates-Ingle.

Some of Project AIM’s young artists ultimately lose their battle with cancer. But the art they leave behind continues to play an important role. “It provides a kind of legacy for the family,” Gates-Ingle notes, “while it attests to the courage of the human spirit in the face of adversity.”

Patients in the program are taught new skills and produce creative work that builds their self-confidence in what can be, for many, a most disheartening time in their young lives. In essence, they are healed through art.

Patty Tiscareño Executive Director, Rio Grande Cancer Foundation