March 3, 2014

Jeff Gordon grant to help pediatric cancer patients cope with illness

The Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation has awarded $5,000 to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt as part of its annual Promise Circle Competitive Grant Program. The grant will help make clinical art therapy available to more pediatric oncology patients, enhancing their treatment experience.

Children’s Hospital is one of seven organizations to receive a Promise Circle grant, awarded to “organizations providing the very best in research, treatment and patient support programs in the field of pediatric cancer,” according to the Foundation.

In 2013, the Foundation gave $1.5 million in funding for the Promise Circle Competitive Grant Program.

“We could not be more grateful for the generosity of the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation,” said Janet Cross, M.Ed., CCLS, director of Patient and Family Centered Care at Children’s Hospital. “This grant will allow for even more of our patients to experience the many benefits of the Art Therapy Program.”

The Art Therapy Program at Children’s Hospital was created in 2011 and is supported by the Junior League of Nashville. Art therapy services are provided by a Board Certified Art Therapist. Cross says that these services include activities designed to help patients express their thoughts and fears, develop coping skills and encourage feelings of independence and control.

Cross says that children and adolescents may feel that their illness is their fault, leading to feelings of anxiety, guilt and incompetence. Additionally, she notes that pediatric cancer patients may experience psychological difficulties such as withdrawing socially, an inability or unwillingness to effectively communicate their fears and, potentially, the development of body image issues. All of this would be added to the underlying fear that accompanies a life-threatening illness.