Creative Arts Therapy Program Helping Young Patients Cope Through Creativity

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- A hospital stay doesn't sound anything like fun, but staff members at one hospital are trying to change that with the help of art.

Making the masterpieces provides more than just beauty.

Chelsea Capper is making her rounds. She isn't a doctor or nurse, but what she does inside rooms at Blank Children's Hospital could be just as powerful.

"It could be helping through hospitalization, dealing with traumas, or just kind of expressing yourself in an environment that's really hard to do so," she said.

Capper is an art therapist.

"So we have that understanding of art and art materials and the therapeutic quality, and then we also have the theoretical background of counseling and therapy," explained Capper.

With an undergrad degree in studio art and a Masters of Science in art therapy, she uses paper and paint to help kids express their feelings.

"This is a painting done by one of the patients, an older kid, who had a real love for video games," said Capper. "To get him involved, I incorporated remote control cars."

The young patient slowly became more comfortable by using the remote control car as his brush.

"What's ironic is the remote control actually gave him more control, where he kind of felt lost in this environment that's really scary, he was able to regain control and manipulate his environment in a way he was comfortable with using that kind of joystick approach," Capper said.

Child Life at Blank Children’s Hospital launched the Creative Arts Therapy program in August and it’s funded by donations.

"Several years ago, we started funding and raising money specifically to hire a music and art therapist," said Julie Pedigo, Child Life and Family Centered Services Manager.

Capper, along with a music therapist, work part time but the plan is to make the program full time.

"People are really starting to see the validity and how important it is to have this other form of communication for these kids who are dealing with hospitalization," said Capper.

Money raised at events like The Festival of Trees and funds donated from the Principal Charity Classic support the Creative Arts Therapy Program.

Individual donations also help.