Art for Cancer Wellness: Overview & Impact
Every season, Kits to Heart offers free, virtual Art for Cancer Wellness workshops for patients, caregivers, survivors, and healthcare workers. Participants are guided to explore a theme designed to explore feelings, increase self-expression, foster hope and strengths, identify coping skills, and engage in mindfulness and grounding. Materials are included and no art experience necessary!
Launched in 2022, the Art for Cancer Wellness Program is made possible thanks to funding from the 2021 Changemaker Challenge—organized and supported by the United Way of Central Maryland, Horizon Foundation, Women's Giving Circle of Howard County, and Community Foundation of Howard County.
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Facilitated by licensed art therapists, our Art for Cancer Wellness groups are tailored to the following populations:
- Patients: Adults currently undergoing cancer treatments and those who are within six months of treatments,
- Survivors: Adults who are more than six months out of treatments,
- Young Adults: Patients ages 19 to 29,
- Caregivers: Adult caregivers and family members of patients with cancer, and
- Oncology Healthcare Workers: Clinicians and providers—including oncologists, nurses, and social workers—who work with people with cancer.
Kits to Heart also offers free, virtual Art Hive sessions open to anyone in our community. These drop-in sessions are guided by one of our art therapists, with the focus of the session on community art-making in a shared, safe space.
Since kicking off this program with a 4-week trial program in spring 2022, Kits to Heart has served more than 180 participants with 194 free virtual workshops—that is more than 230 hours!
Em Jones (she/her) is a registered and licensed graduate professional art therapist providing trauma informed art therapy in Baltimore, Maryland. A native of Baltimore, Em earned her Master of Arts in Art Therapy from Notre Dame of Maryland University and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art.
Em's multifaceted experiences working as an art therapist with adults, adolescents, and children of diverse backgrounds and needs allows her to support individuals in a unique and collaborative manner. With an extensive background in art-making and creative processes, Em guides individuals through a creative healing experience that honors their journey and helps them to discover new meaning about themselves and their experiences. Em believes in art as a way of knowing; she is invested in the healing and transformative power of creative action for self-understanding, wellness, and improved engagement with life.
Connie Zabokrtsky (she/her) is a trauma-informed art therapist with both clinical and community-based experience providing talk therapy, arts-based therapies, self-care practices, and educational curricula to individuals and groups. Connie uses expressive art mediums, both in-person and virtually, to enrich mind/body connections, self-reflection, and stress-relief. She has an avid commitment to research that informs ongoing, multidisciplinary literature review supporting the work of military and first-responder providers, COVID-19 as a socio-cultural change agent, autobiographical art making as self-reflective narrative, and arts-based interventions to support children suffering traumatic injury in war/conflict zones.
Lacy Mucklow (she/her) is an art therapist who has been practicing in the Washington, DC-area since 1999, working in various sites including home-based counseling, school, IOP/PHP, and inpatient hospitalization settings. Aside from facilitating groups with Kits to Heart, she currently works with active duty service members in an intensive outpatient program and in private practice with all ages. Lacy has a BA in Psychology with a Studio Art minor from Oklahoma State University and an MA in Art Therapy from The George Washington University. She is currently working on her PhD in Mind-Body Medicine at Saybrook University.
Lacy finds the power of art to be healing on many levels, and also enjoys incorporating mindfulness methods in her practice in conjunction with art-making to help people relax and reduce their stress levels. She has released two meditation albums, "Lavender Dreams" and "Lavender Destinations," to assist people with personal mindfulness and relaxation as well as in a larger group setting. She has also authored the New York Times Bestselling book Color Me Calm, five other therapeutically themed coloring book titles, and Mom and Me: An Art Journal to Share, Create, and Connect Side by Side to help parents communicate more effectively with their children through making art. As a cancer survivor herself, Lacy is honored to bring art for wellness with Kits to Heart.
Luisa Mariño (she/her) is a registered and licensed art therapist and artist. In her work, she focuses on establishing a trusting and authentic relationship with individuals and communities. Before going deeper into the therapeutic process, she encourages each person to explore their creativity through a variety of art techniques. She also enjoys collaborating with partners and adapting therapeutic interventions to specific needs. As a researcher, she is interested in exploring the intersections among art therapy, education, and community work.
"I am so happy that Kits to Heart exists. I love art and it’s not easy to find the opportunity to have such a creative outlet with those that have also experienced something as challenging as cancer. I loved how there is a place where I can connect and create, to express in such a pure way, and gain insight at the same time. I have made new friends and feel inspired. Thank you for this gift."
"I am so happy to have joined to listen, learn, and embrace all of [our] anchors ... light and darkness. Knowing we are in a shared experience group makes me feel not so alone."
"You've done so much for so many people, the results from those participating will have far reaching effects and offer unique ways for many to find exciting and creative ways to discover their voice on their individual healing journeys. You've tossed countless numbers of pebbles into the sea, creating ripples that will spread far and wide, letting more people, from patients to volunteers to caregivers, know that art is a powerful tool in the healing process. This will grow phenomenally. And all because you were inspired to pay it forward. It will truly be magical to see the impact your program and the efforts of all the participating art therapists and volunteers will have on those who've chosen to use art to help themselves heal."
"I thought it was great! I loved everything about it. I found this so much more helpful than regular therapy."
"[The facilitator] was amazing, the prompts were relevant, the other group members were incredible. It was really helpful to learn visual journaling and it really worked for me right now versus just writing in a journal. I loved seeing what my brain/unconscious came up with each session. I learned how much tension I am carrying—most of my drawings had some type of tension initially. I am working to find much more peace and calm. It was helpful to hear others going through many of the same things and being able to be honest about how I’m feeling."
"What a wonderful blessing to be cared for like this. I loved the facilitator. She was as sweet and aware as she could be."
"I’ve been in several programs at Wellness House, and this has been the most meaningful. We were just raving to the other group how much we love the art therapy group."
"The atmosphere created was very peaceful and relaxing. The music selections, intro breathing, and warm welcome made it a lovely space to step into every week. People will LOVE this!"
"I loved how personal it was. Art therapy is real."
"[The facilitator] is so skilled at reading the room. On days that were particularly trying, she was able to help us work through the issues and come out feeling refreshed and motivated. I always came away from the sessions with a great sense of calm."
"[The facilitator] has a great way of taking her group through a wonderful process of mindfulness. And lots of other things. And in a very communal way, where we share and speak on other's artwork. No one judges and so it's a dedicated spot just for us, where we can be real!! Through art. Who knew?!"
"It was a safe and supportive space, and I found returning to creative activities gave me opportunities to focus on cutting, gluing, coloring, etc., and not about cancer or any other worries."
"I couldn't choose what I liked best. The whole experience was amazing. I liked the way the instructions weren't rigid and how everything came together at the end of each lesson."
"[The facilitator] was extremely calming, welcoming, and it was just an all around great experience for participating in art therapy for the first time."
"Talking to everyone and sharing makes me realize we all feel the same. I have a wonderful support group of family and friends, but it is different when you are going though it yourself. We all understand each other and how the lows can feel so bad and then we pick ourselves up and try to feel positive and try to enjoy and live life with the time you have. Time becomes so much more precious. The art lets you ponder your own feelings and surprises us."
"In the weeks since we’ve last met, I didn’t realize how much I needed this outlet."
"This is the one good thing I did [this week], and it made me feel like I accomplished something."
"The guidance and protocol for the hour was fantastic. It really felt therapeutic, cleansing and my group members were lovely."
"Art therapy has kept me sane, in particular during this transition in my life. The fact that it can be done virtually is a blessing. I know for most the pandemic is over, but due to my compromised immune system I still am limited in regard to where I can go and what I can do."
"It was an AMAZING experience. I enjoyed getting to know my peers week after week. I also was fascinated that all the sessions I attended had different materials but often had the same theme. Everyone was supportive, positive, and honest."
"I loved the conversations and community."
"The supplies were lovely. I felt pampered. The curriculum was outstanding. Really made you dig in deep."
"I really liked [my facilitator]—her manner was very calming and appreciated. I also liked meeting all the participants from near and far. Each person was amazing with an amazing cancer path."