Van Gogh-ing Virtual: Art Therapy Goes Virtual for Kids Like Zoe During COVID-19

Six-year old Zoe loves to show her original artwork to her friends and family. She paints, sculpts clay and makes silk hoop paintings in bright colors. Zoe’s mom, Brigitte, credits the art therapy at Children's National for inspiring her daughter’s love of art.

"I didn't even know that Zoe was into art the way she is," Brigitte says. "When Zoe first started, she just scribbled. Now she paints pictures of the sun and her family and grass and blue skies. It makes her happy and helps her with stress."

Art therapy has been an important part of the healing process for Zoe, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in October. ALL is one of the most common forms of pediatric cancer.

"During art therapy, it’s not about her cancer — it’s about being a kid and having fun,” says Brigette.

But the threat of COVID-19 limited Zoe’s time at the hospital this spring. Her mom says Zoe was devastated to lose her regular art therapy sessions. That's when one of our art therapists reached out to let the family know that she'd be doing remote art therapy sessions.

“It was like the gift of technology shined right through and put that pep back in her step,” Brigitte says.

Zoe now has extra pep her in step when she realizes it's art therapy day. During the video conference art therapy sessions, Zoe paints and sculpts while talking with art therapist Jane on a nearby screen.

“They talk about Zoe’s feeling and what she has accomplished,” Brigette says. “Zoe says she feels like she’s sitting in the art room.”

The therapy sessions also give Brigitte a break.

“With cancer, every day is a guessing game about how Zoe is going to feel,” she says. “But if we have art therapy, I know it’s going to be a good day. It gives Zoe life.”

Art therapy at Children's National is funded by the generosity of our community. You can help ensure kids like Zoe continue to have access to this important resource and support other hospital priorities during the coronavirus pandemic by making a gift to the COVID-19 Emergency Action Fund.

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