Children painting with their feet. At CHAP one of the most common art projects is finger painting and being able to work with paint. Photo from the CHAP website.

“At CHAP, children are known for their creativity and ingenuity — not by their disease, diagnosis or disability.” Healing arts is the main aspect of the Children’s Healing Arts Project also known as CHAP. CHAP is a non-profit organization serving children of all ages located at the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU). They use art as a way to engage children with medical challenges. Whether it’s through finger painting or sock puppet making, the children are inspired to bring creativity to their daily lives. Faye Pendergrass, the program manager at CHAP, said, “My favorite part is meeting all the people! We are here as a way to help the children, and it brings me joy when they can smile about the art they have made.” Although a very common occurrence for her, Pendergrass appreciates the moments when she gets to work with them. “It is a hard feeling to describe to someone but an amazing one to witness.” While CHAP serves to help children in the hospitals, there are other parts of CHAP that are helping others outside of the hospital. The CHAP art club has a similar function so that children with medical challenges are able to do art. This program is for those outside of the hospital and will move settings every weekend. It is a way to create a community and have a space where these children won’t be judged. The mission of CHAP is to help those in need. To be able to bring smiles to faces that may not have smiled in a while and to build a community that is inclusive to the medical challenges a child may face. According to Pendergrass, one of the most common and exciting art projects is finger painting. Finger painting brings out their excitement and laughter. CHAP is able to help the families of the children as they have to go through lots of emotional pain. Being able to lift their children’s spirits allows the families to be more relaxed.

When children experience trauma like having a severe medical condition, it can cause their whole world to flip. Having something to help lift their spirits can allow them to see the world in a different light. This happiness is spread through many of the volunteers and staff. CHAP is made up of over 600 volunteers. Groups of people that want to help out every once in a while can also volunteer on organized days. Allison Arbuthnot a group volunteer, says her favorite experience was “when we got the chance to gather around craft table and decorate hearts with glitter.” Arbuthnot would highly recommend volunteering there as it has an upbeat environment, while also being a perfect opportunity for people under 18 to contribute to the community. CHAP is a community devoted to helping children with medical challenges and their families. At the same time they are able to bring in community members who want to make a difference and allow the volunteers to experience the delight of the children and the magic of the healing art.


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