Art and Emotion
Art therapist Ann Walker and chaplain Bill Miller want to set out on a voyage to help sick kids.

Spending time in the hospital can affect a kid in a lot of ways. Feelings of sadness, as well as loneliness and just plain boredom, are common. Art therapy — in the form of visual arts and music — can decrease the stress associated with hospitals and procedures, helping patients recover faster and require less pain medication. But art therapists are not always available, and even when they are, they can usually work with just one patient at a time. That's why Spokane chaplain Bill Miller and art therapist Ann Walker, who work together at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, have teamed up to develop Arts Ahoy, a program that they hope will deliver customized art therapy to kids anytime, anywhere.

Miller and Walker intend to create a series of video adventures featuring a costumed Miller as the captain of a ship, and Walker in the role of "Adventure Annie." Together they sing and guide 5-to-10-year-old kids on a voyage to explore a single targeted negative emotion associated with a hospital stay, such as fear.

"It allows them to name their emotion, which is the first step in having some control, and then process it in a way that is non-damaging and non-hurtful," says Miller of the program. Accompanying the Captain and Annie on the video journey will be a trio of kids who have actually experienced health issues, and who will explain to young viewers how they coped. A real-life treasure chest of art supplies delivered to the patient's bed will enable each child to create pictures illustrating the feeling explored in the video, which hospital staff can then upload to a gallery on the Arts Ahoy website.

Ultimately, Miller says they would like to feature voyages exploring 12 emotions. Right now, though, they're looking for funding to produce and test a pilot episode. A party to commence a Kickstarter campaign aimed at raising $45,000 will be held Thursday, May 7, from 5:30 to 7 pm at Hamilton Studio, 1427 W. Dean. RSVP at 850-2750.

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About The Author

Anne McGregor

Anne McGregor is a contributor to the Inlander and the editor of InHealth. She is married to Inlander editor/publisher Ted S. McGregor, Jr.