Art therapy helps kids deal with cancer fears

Art therapy helps kids deal with cancer fears : Local News : Anderson Independent Mail

Art therapy helps kids deal with cancer fears

Ten-year-old Mitch Mitchell spent time Saturday with other children who were dealing with the same types of issues — family members who battled or are battling cancer.

Mitch’s mother, Mikal Fletcher Mitchell, is a cancer survivor. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2004 and finished her treatment in March 2005.

“I can see some of my friends that come here,” he said about the group that meets at the Cancer Association of Anderson office.

“I can express my feelings instead of just holding them in.”

Mitch said he likes talking to other children his age about what he went through. He said it’s better for him to talk about it than keep it balled up inside.

The group, Kaleidoscope Kidscape, which stands for Kids Sharing Creativity and Positive Experiences, is a free healing arts workshop series for children 5 to 12 and meets once a month. It’s led by Heather Kline Schaffer, who is a licensed professional counselor and a South Carolina artist.

Children who attended the workshops that have been offered for about three years can attend for as long as or as short a time as they want. All participants must pre-register as they are prescreened for the group to determine how they are currently coping.

Ms. Schaffer said the group discusses what it means to be diagnosed with cancer, what everyone is going through and ways to deal with their feelings.

“For these children it’s a time to process feelings, an opportunity to bond with others going through similar experiences and learn healthy coping skills,” she said.

The group also does an art project.

“We do an activity because it personalizes the experience and clinical studies have demonstrated healing arts projects reestablish a balancing of the emotions,” Ms. Schaffer said.

One of the first things the attendees did Saturday was make a list of their favorite things — things they can do to help themselves feel better. Dena Rhinehart, 13, of Anderson listed playing soccer, listening to music, hanging out with friends and going to church.

Dena, whose mother has breast cancer, said she enjoyed her first time attending a Kaleidoscope Kidscape workshop.

“It takes your mind off of things,” she said. “You can get it out.”

After making a list, participants turned colorful yarn into spheres they could use to comfort themselves by simply holding them or tossing them to another participant across the room.

By the end participants created several spheres, some of which they took home and some they shared with each other.

During other sessions, children have made collage and clay masks, scrapbooks, journals and kaleidoscopes.

Ms. Mitchell said she could tell her son benefited from attending the workshops.

“It’s sort of an outlet to be in a group where you don’t feel like you’re the only one going through it,” she said. “It gave him something to look forward to.”

Source: http://www.independentmail.com/news/2007/jan/21/art-therapy-helps-kids-deal-cancer-fears/

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