BETHESDA, Md. — Tracy's Kids uses art therapy to engage with young patients, their siblings and parents so that they can express feelings and reflect on their treatment experiences.
September is Childhood Cancer and National Sickle Cell Awareness month. That’s why we’re highlighting Tracy’s Kids.org. This non-profit helps young cancer patients and their families cope with the emotional toll a cancer diagnosis can take through art.
About 84% of the group's spending is on its programs and when you donate to Tracy’s Kids, your dollars go toward the children and families served.
Tracy's Kids is a registered 501(c)(3) organization. Its founder, Matt Gerson, knows firsthand how scary a cancer diagnosis can be, especially to a child. He was diagnosed with cancer at age 10 and he's now 63 years old.
Gerson said while treatment got him physically healthy, the psychological aspects of the disease fascinated him.
Gerson sat down with Allison Seymour over Zoom to talk about the group and its mission, which aims to ensure that the children and families it serves are emotionally equipped to fight their disease as actively as possible and prepared for the time when they are cancer-free.
"These children miss out on a lot. They miss social things, whether it's little league or sleepovers or school. And they endure a very, very scary experience, Gerson said.
Tracy Councill is an art therapist and started a program at the Lombardi Cancer Center at Georgetown University Hospital. Now there are several art therapy programs at various locations across the country.
After Gerson saw Councill and other trained art therapists working with young cancer patients, Gerson founded Tracy’s Kids.
So how does art therapy help young cancer patients?
"Art therapy is a mental health profession that uses the creative process and interpersonal connections, to help people understand themselves better express themselves better, "Councill said. "So our therapy is particularly accessible and useful to kids in the hospital because they've been through a lot of scary things. And they don't know how to talk about them, and they don't know how to process them.
Tracy’s Kids helps 5,000 young patients a year, it welcomes siblings and parents, it’s free of charge and relies heavily on community support.
"Well, Matt and Tracy on behalf of WUSA9 and our partners at Easterns Automotive Group, we would like to make a contribution. We'd like to give you a check for $1,000 to help with all of the work that you do all year round. Thank you," Allison said.
Gerson was thankful for the surprise gift and already had plans for how it will be used.
"Thank you very much. That is helpful. We'll buy a lot of supplies and will help keep us going strong for the children and families in the Washington, D.C. area," Gerson said.
Thanks again to Easterns Automotive Group.
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