Providing Support through Art Healing at HeART to Home



HeART to Home Program Offers Art Healing

Walk With Sally’s HeART to Home program focuses on art healing and is specifically developed to assist children who have been impacted by cancer. The group sessions use art to further cultivate sharing and strengthen the connection between mentees and their mentors by providing mentees safe avenues for self-expression, increasing coping skills and addressing the impact of cancer. Through creative activities as well as connecting and sharing, mentees gain access to additional support in dealing with painful circumstances and skills to reduce stress, build resilience and increase self-confidence.

In 2019, we held 4 sessions with a total of 67 mentors and mentees who came and expressed themselves in different ways in order to support their healing and growth process surrounding cancer. Our sessions were developed by Britt Harrison, a Los Angeles-based artist who focuses on art healing.

In light of the recent changes surrounding COVID-19, we wanted to find a way for families to recreate these activities at home as a creative exercise and way to reduce stress and address trauma. Please see below for a description of each session and ideas for how to do these activities in your home!

Session 1: Building Confidence

Session 1 was focused on building confidence through the use of clay. Each child got two balls of clay and molded one into their inner monsters; i.e. their bad feelings. Once each mentee introduced their monster to the group, they got to SMASH THE MONSTER! This created a safe, restricted area for them to release some anger and feel empowered and confidence over their negative feelings. The mentees then used the second ball of clay to craft their inner hero. This encouraged them to appreciate their own qualities and take note in how others build self-esteem. They were able to take their heroes home to serve as a reminder to be their own personal hero.

At-Home Tips: Use play-doh to create the monsters! Have your child introduce the monster and use their fist or a household object to SMASH their bad feelings. Leave their inner heroes on display to remind them of their positive qualities. 

A mentor helps their mentee destroy their inner monsters

Session 2: Embracing our Emotions

Session 2 focused on our emotions. thinking about safe zones and reinforcing the idea that it’s ok to be sad. Mentees painted a Happiness Mask and added details from an animal that they found to be powerful, strong or happy. They then created a Sadness Mask, including details from a place that they feel safe to feel sad, i.e. their room or by the beach.

At-Home Tips: Use paper plates to create the masks and household items such as beads, colored paper, markers, and crayons to decorate. 

Mentors and mentees with their happiness masks

Session 3: Preserving Memories

For Session 3, we focused on memories and what that can mean for the grieving process. Mentees created memory boxes to honor someone they had lost or to keep memories of someone, inspired by the style of Vincent Van Gogh. Using collage materials and paint, they decorated the inside and outside of their boxes and some brought photos of the person to paste on the inside of the box lid.

At-Home Tips: use an old shoe box or tissue box and decorate using photos, markers, crayons, and paint.

A mentor and mentee share their memory boxes

Session 4: Embracing Growth and Change

Session 4 focused on growth and took advantage of the Southern California winter weather and was hosted outside on the patio at Cross Campus South Bay. Mentees created flowers through the use of string art. This session focused on the beauty of growth and how changes can sometimes lead to positivity and beauty.

At-Home Tips; Use a cork board for the base and place push pins in a floral pattern to create the base. Wrap colored string around the pins to create your design!

Heart to Home in 2020

We are excited to begin another year of Heart to Home through our partnership with the South Bay Artist Collective at RESIN Artist Gallery this year! We will be hosting our first session in April virtually via Zoom so please be on the lookout for details on date and time to tune in.

If you or someone you know has been impacted by cancer, Walk With Sally is always here to support. Please reach out to us at 310-322-3900 for more information about our program.