The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore: Artist in Residence Program
enCourage Kids Foundation has funded the Artist in Residence Program at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore (CHAM) since 2010. This program facilitates weekly workshops and individual sessions that encourage children to use artistic processes as vehicles for self-expression. Utilizing these creative tools can reduce stress and anxiety for young patients as well as improve their pain management through distraction.
For the past four years, CHAM’s Artist in Residence has been beat-boxer and songwriter Jonathan “Duv” Zaragoza. Funding from enCourage Kids was used to hire Duv from ArtWorks, The Naomi Cohain Foundation, which invites artists into the hospital setting to offer multi-disciplinary art workshops and one-on-one sessions for pediatric patients. The CHAM staff see Duv as one of their own. “That is why I appreciate enCourage Kids supporting us for so many years. To me, it is like having an additional staff member. Duv is a part of our team. He is not a volunteer who is just stopping by,” says Meghan Kelly, Director of Phoebe H. Stein Child Life Program and GWN Explainer Program at CHAM.
Duv does six-week rotations through the different units at CHAM. During enCourage Kids’ most recent visit, he was in the Pediatric Dialysis Unit working with a teenage patient, Jack*. Duv and Jack have known each other for four years, forming a close relationship that has allowed Jack to come out of his shell during his hospital stays. As part of his therapeutic care, Jack began creating music, and they work together each week to add a new element to Jack’s song on GarageBand, while also catching up on life and just hanging out.
enCourage Kids is proud to support CHAM and their Artist in Residence Program. We are excited to continue to watch the incredible impact Duv has on the pediatric patients he works with, helping bring joy, hope, resilience, and healing.
* Name changed to respect the privacy of the patient.
Blythedale Children’s Hospital: Music Therapy Program
“Music Therapy rocks! Joining forces with our Music Therapists allows our therapeutic modalities to be far reaching and vastly diverse, improving and deepening our ability to be the most effective in our direct patient care.”
Kelsey Mayer, M.S., CCLS, Director of Therapeutic and Developmental Support Services at Blythedale Children’s Hospital
Research has shown the addition of Music Therapy to a Child Life Department enhances hospitals’ ability to provide for their patients in the most appropriate and effective way, allowing their services to be more comprehensive and far-reaching. Since 2013, enCourage Kids Foundation has provided $130,000 to assist in the growth of the Music Therapy Program at Blythedale Children’s Hospital. Blythedale serves a majority of long-term pediatric patients who have experienced various accidents, abuse, and even the traumas of prolonged and/or significant hospital stays. Music Therapy is an extremely effective modality for these patients, offering unique versatility to address varying degrees of trauma.
Blythedale has a full-time Music Therapist, Reissa, and a part-time Music Therapist, Kat, who both work with patients individually as well as lead group sessions during the week and on the weekend. Over the past few years, Blythedale’s Music Therapy group offerings have grown immensely, allowing the program to have a vast influence. Currently, their Music Therapists run four groups a week: two toddler music groups, one Ukulele Club, and one group in their Early Childhood Center. Participating in a Music Therapy group provides different benefits than individual sessions, such as opportunities for socialization and team work, as well as promoting peer support among patients who can relate to each other’s experiences and celebrate each other’s accomplishments. Additionally, the groups provide increased opportunities for family participation, which strengthens bonds and improves the quality of life for both the patient and their family members.
Blythedale’s Brain Injury Unit is one of the largest served by the Music Therapy Program. It has been particularly successful with those patients as their ability to interact with their external environment and to experience developmentally appropriate sensory and social stimulation is typically impaired. These Music Therapy interventions have shown to be successful in inducing relaxation, providing sensory stimulation, decreasing pain, promoting healthy attachment to caregivers, encouraging self-expression, and increasing a sense of control and empowerment.
enCourage Kids Foundation is proud to have provided the funding to help Blythedale launch their Music Therapy Program. We are excited to continue to watch them grow to meet the needs of their unique population.
Camp Pontiac: Annual Family Weekend
“The great part of enCourage Kids is that their programs are not just for the individuals themselves who have particular illnesses. They invite the entire family out – and that is so important.”
Hal Sass, dad of enCourage kids Danielle and Matthew
This past Labor Day Weekend, enCourage Kids hosted 205 attendees for our 12th Annual Family Weekend at Camp Pontiac. This weekend provides our kids and families with the opportunity to step out of their day-to-day lives and experience a break from their usual stresses. When they come to Camp Pontiac, they don’t have to worry about doctor’s appointments or upcoming surgeries. They are able to connect with other kids and families who have been through similar challenges.
Throughout the weekend, the kids play basketball, kickball, and tennis. They participate in arts and crafts, play in the arcade room, watch movies, and eat s’mores. While the kids participate in these fun activities, their parents get to take a breath and watch their children enjoy themselves. They connect with other parents who understand what it is like to watch their children face medical challenges. For them, this weekend provides a freedom they do not typically get in their daily lives. enCourage Kids is proud to support our families and provide this incredible weekend free of charge.
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