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New Art Therapy Supplies For Kids in Saint Peter's Hospital

ArtWorks and St. Peter's Split Cost of New Custom-Built "Art Cart"
St. Peter's Art Cart Bashir Baskinger

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Saint Peter’s University Hospital, in conjunction with ArtWorks the Naomi Cohain Foundation Inc., recently unveiled a new custom-built "art cart" for their pediatric patients.

The Surprise! Supplies portable art cart is filled with crayons, markers, paper, and other materials for children who are undergoing long procedures like chemotherapy and blood transfusions.

The cart itself, designed by New York pop artist Ed Heck, is brightly painted blue, and has wheel, so it can be brought directly to the children in the Pediatric Infusion Room.

The Infusion Room is where “a child will be receiving treatment, hooked up to an IV for two, three, or four hours,” says Kristyn Santee, Child Life Specialist at Saint Peter’s Hospital.

ArtWorks is an organization based out of Englewood, NJ, dedicated to providing various forms of art therapy to patients with life-threatening or chronic illnesses.

Saint Peter’s University Hospital first began collaborating with ArtWorks eight years ago, through their participation in ArtWorks’ showcase event called “Express Yourself,” where pediatric patients from hospitals all over New Jersey get a chance to display their artwork at the Montclair Art Museum.

“These kinds of things help give the children a distraction and escape from what they’re going through,” says ArtWorks Executive Director Daniela Mendelsohn.

Katherine Kelly, ArtWorks Administrative Coordinator, tells New Brunswick Today that the art cart will also “give the patients’ siblings something to do while the patients are being treated.”

“A lot of times, the patients’ siblings are also going through a rough time.”

Robyn Ellenbogen, a visual art therapist hired through ArtWorks, spends Friday afternoons at Saint Peter’s University Hospital, at the bedsides of children helping them make art.

One of her goals is “to develop close and intimate relationships with the kids and their families. It’s a communal sort of therapy with shamanic qualities to it.”

Ellenbogen continues, saying “it’s amazing to see these kids with remarkable illnesses come through the hospital, and leave healed.”

“And to see kids that don’t make it is equally as profound.”

The cart will be restocked every four months with new art supplies for the children.

Half of this project was funded by ArtWorks, and the other half was funded by the hospital.