Home » Johnson Space Center volunteers with ‘ARTreach’
November 6, 2009 – Johnson Space Center
For children undergoing cancer or blood disorders, a waiting room can test patience and heighten fears. But the Arts in Medicine Program at Texas Children’s Cancer Center at Texas Children’s Hospital aims to transform the outlook and attitudes of kids during this stressful time by inspiring and guiding them to creatively express themselves. Volunteers to the program provide a positive experience by leading young patients into art projects of by simply being a comforting presence.
As part of Johnson Space Center’s community outreach, JSC Director Mike Coats and fellow team members visited the children and their families on September 25, 2009. Coats hugged some of the young patients, gave out mission patches and shuttle pins and read the story, “I want to be an Astronaut,” to a wide-eyed group of youngsters.
“I wanted to find a way that the JSC family could help children who are fighting cancer,” Coats said. “Space exploration is inspirational to every age and I wanted these kids to know that they are the ones who may see us go to Mars. I hope that dream will help them get well.”
Other JSC volunteers helped kids color in space-themed books and decorate colorful astronaut cardboard dolls using an assortment of crafts. Passports were tethered to their astronaut’s spacesuit with the idea of bringing their newly created pal alongside them for moral support during medical treatments.
It’s been theorized that creativity and inspiration through the arts affect the mind and body, helping to reduce stress and possibly aid in the healing process. Allowing children to express pent-up emotions may even help them cope with their condition.
“Art programs and visits like the one from the volunteers at JSC encourage our patients and their siblings to get involved in creative outlets that not only pass time but spark learning,” said Carol Herron, Arts in Medicine Program coordinator. “You can tell by the looks on the faces of the parents that they appreciate the opportunity to see their children actively involved in something fun and educational.
Pictured (top): “Educational Specialist Jonathan Neubauer demos a spacesuit giving children a sense of spacewalking technology in microgravity.
Pictured (middle): “When a child opens their arms to give you a hug—that’s an important moment,” JSC Director Mike Coats said.
Pictured (bottom): “While children made their astronauts, volunteers shared information on space exploration,” said Cindy McArthur, lead for JSC’s Teacher From Space Program, who developed the activity. “A perfect combination—learning while having fun.”