Art Program at Children’s Cancer Clinic Helps Patients, Fami

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MCALLEN – Christmas is a time for families to spend time together and children writing to Santa Claus. Some families are asking for something a little more special during the holidays.

Javier is asking for a particular video game for Christmas. “Robots, you have to jump or move,” he described.

He recently visited Vannie Cook Children’s Clinic for his doctor’s appointment. He said it’s pretty tough what he’s going through.

The art center set up in the clinic helps pass the time though. It’s also a distraction from other things, like the treatment he receives.

Miranda is camera shy but it’s a big day for her. She had a big smile on her face since it’s her last chemo treatment.

The art center is a getaway for her too.

“It’s a blessing to be able to provide this small opportunity to take their mind off their treatments for a little while,” hospital volunteer Marlynn Olivarez said.

Olivarez is an arts in medicine volunteer at Vannie Cook Children’s Cancer Clinic in McAllen. It’s an extension of a program through Texas Children’s Hospital.

“I just have a lot of fun with the children here as they’re waiting for their appointments,” she said.

As a former teacher, Olivarez finds great joy in working with children.

“The kids give me so much more than I give them. It’s so much fun. We like to create, they’re happy, more relaxed,” she described.

But the children are not the only ones who dabble in art in the clinic. Olivarez said adults also partake in the art activities.

“A lot of parents even do art with me. We have the adult coloring books or creative art, I had a mom finger paint not so long ago,” Olivarez said.

The program is helpful in building a strong bond with the children and their families.

“We want them to become part of our family, and we believe art helps them express themselves and helps them with their treatment process,” Vannie Cook Clinic Director of Development Victoria Guerra said.

“I love Christmas, of course, but I love this all year long. Actually making a mark seeing the children look at their artwork on the wall is my favorite part of the arts in medicine program,” Olivarez said.

And the way the team measures success is through smiles and hugs, which Javier and Miranda have plenty of for Olivarez.


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