Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York welcomes Charna’s Kids Club to our home.
Charna’s Kids Club has been the perfect addition to Cohens, providing a safe place for siblings of hospitalized children. Charna’s Kids Club helps these children feel valued and assists them with any coping challenges they may face. As the Program Coordinator and as an Art Therapist, I have witnessed the emotional issues with which "Charna’s Kids" struggle. So, we are very pleased that we have been able to offer this excellent sibling support program, four days a week, to our sibling patient population of 300,000. Thank you, Arlene and Larry Radbell!
Charna’s Kids Club welcomes all our siblings with bright and cheerful colors. We have Matisse inspired wallpaper, colorful chairs, and a mesmerizing fish tank! When the siblings come to "Charna’s," they always run to the table filled with art supplies. This gives me the opportunity to educate the parents about the program. Then, while the siblings are enjoying their individual and group therapeutic and recreational time, the parents are able to visit the patient with a greater peace of mind.
Once the siblings are settled, they are invited to complete a "How I Feel" exercise. This encourages each child to express what he or she is feeling, and in turn, this allows me to devise specific therapeutic skills and directives according to their individual needs.
We then transition into an art therapy directive which is related to feelings. "What Lifts Me Up," for instance, allows the siblings to create symbols and colors which represent their feelings like fear, sadness, confusion, anger, jealousy, and rejection. We then teach the siblings healthy ways to express themselves and to cope with their emotions.
When the siblings complete their artistic creations, they hang them up. This gesture demonstrates that every child is an artist which can be very empowering! Then, all together, the siblings choose a group game which has been proven to increase positive mood and decrease sadness. Afterward, the group then enjoys snacks. At Charna’s Kids Club we call this session, ‘Snack Chat.’ By this time, the siblings are usually more comfortable with sharing their feelings as evidenced by seamless conversations.
Before the day ends at Charna’s Kids Club, we have Story Time. One of the siblings’ favorite books is "Inside Out." It focuses on the importance of sharing ALL of one’s feelings and how it’s okay to show them all.
Goodbye Time is always the hardest. No one wants to leave! We hope each sibling leaves "Charna’s" with something with which they might not have entered, i.e., understanding that it’s okay to talk about their feelings,knowing that they are not alone, having new copings skills, and being assured that Charna’s is a SAFE place for them.