Sparkt Bridges

They've Got Passion: See How This Talented Bunch Is Making Life Better For Sick Children

These hospital therapists are skilled artists and musicians using their talents to help others.

This story is part of a bi-weekly series that celebrates people who are reaching across a divide to "build bridges" with those different from themselves. The Sparkt Bridges series is made possible with the support of UPMC.

Being sick is no fun. Being in the hospital even less so. And if you're a child who can barely understand what's happening to you, battling a serious illness in a strange place can be downright frightening.

Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh's Center for Creative Arts Therapy lets children come together for fun and healing through art and music.CHP/Facebook

Which is why something so simple and normal as painting a picture or singing a favorite song can be such a comfort -- and bring healing.

The music and art therapy staff at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh know this. It's why they love using their passions for music and art to build bridges with patients and families who are facing the toughest challenges of their lives:

"I have always loved music, but the thing that I loved as much is people. So music therapy gave me the way to bridge the gap," said music therapist Nicole Steele, who is a classical percussionist and now uses her skills to help her patients.

Therapist Nicole Steele says the guitars are among the most popular instruments among her patients.CHP/Facebook

Nicole's thoughts epitomize what we heard from the the therapists (two music and two art), and the director of the cheerful and welcoming Nora Grace Kaufman Center for Creative Arts Therapy at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

When the therapists aren't creating art at their patients' bedsides, they're in this state-of-the-art space, designed to be a place where kids can find healing through creative and expressive arts therapy.

Therapists Kaitlyn Gibson and Katie O'Conner use art to help their patients express themselves.Children's Hospital Foundation

"We're therapists who are there to help children make goals," said program director Kory Antonacci. "They may be medically driven goals, social based goals," or just an opportunity to give a child or family a welcome diversion during a difficult time.

Program director Kory Antonacci plays princess with an appreciative patient.CHP/Facebook

"In a hospital [children] have no control. A therapy session gives them some control," said art therapist Katie O'Connor. "For a child to play or create, just be a kid again. It's an honor to do what we do."

The Sparkt Bridges Project is produced with the generous support of UPMC. Life Changing Medicine.

How can you start something good?

You can support these therapists and their patients by donating to the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation. You can even direct your gift straight to the creative and expressive arts program by clicking here.

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