Who we are
ArtPass brightens the hospital experience for kids and teens by helping them create and share their artwork.
ArtPass programs improve the healing process undergone by admitted kids and and teens around the world by enlivening the hospital experience.
What we do
We make it easy for newly hospitalized kids to connect with other patients or future patients through the magic of art. Patients who sign up receive a free kit of art supplies directly in their room, and choose how they like to make and share art through the program that will best serve them. The end goal of our programs is to foster more positive outlooks in patients through both creative expression and social connection.
After signing up for any of ArtPass’ programs, a PassPACK will be delivered to the patient's room. An example picture of one of our PassPACKs is below. Our PassPACKS are 100% free to families. Some examples of art supplies a patient may find in their PassPACK include:
Founder & Executive Director
In mid 2016, during my first volunteer shift at Doernbecher Children's Hospital, I was summoned to the oncology outpatient clinic to watch over the overrun playroom. During this first impression of the hospital, I witnessed something unexpected: young patients were fostering joy, positivity, and courage through sharing art with other patients in the unit. It became clear to me that this sharing of artwork had enormous effects on the children; from the support system it created, to the more positive mindset it instilled. It allowed the children to forget about their illness for a few minutes and express themselves creatively. Every time an exchange would happen, the recipient would excitedly run back to their room to hang up or store their new artwork.
This was my first impression of the community of hospital patients, and I expected that these connections were being made in all of the units -- inpatient and outpatient. As I began volunteer shifts in the inpatient units, I discovered that they encompassed a naturally isolating atmosphere in which the hospital patients felt more scared and alone. One of my tasks as a Child Life volunteer is to bring an activity cart room to room, allowing patients and families to take items such as decks of cards, art supplies, and books to help reduce their boredom. It became obvious that almost all patients had a desire to create art just like in the oncology outpatient clinic. After almost every shift, we would have to restock our activity cart with more art supplies.
Soon, Monday became the dedicated day I would volunteer in the oncology outpatient playroom, I had the opportunity to talk to many kids about their artwork and explore the importance of the exchange process. It became evident that art was vital in the positivity and courage of these kids going through such strenuous and scary times. Kids of all ages and genders found meaning in creating art, whether as a therapeutic outlet, an opportunity to share their identity, or a way to support a friend going through treatment. While I always assumed art was very meaningful to youth (as it was to me), I was surprised to hear that exchanging artwork was as meaningful as the creation of the art, and could be such a substantial and worthwhile activity.
Once the school year started, I was unable to continue my volunteer shifts in the oncology department, so I became a permanent inpatient unit volunteer. Though I relished the opportunity to work with a new unit, I missed seeing the wonderful things that came out of the art-exchanges I’d seen in the oncology unit, and the differences in the way the extended stay patients acted due to the scary nature of the hospital. I started looking for ways to recreate the supportive and joyous connections I’d witnessed in my prior unit with the extended stay patients. After bringing up the idea to my peers, I heard an overwhelming response that they wish they had a program like this when they were in the hospital, and that it would've helped improve their hospital and healing experience. Plenty of meetings with hospital administrators, in-patient kids and parents, and like-minded volunteers who were eager to make a difference resulted in ArtPass. And I couldn’t be prouder or more excited about it.
Malcolm Asher, Founder and Executive Director