From the moment Ellen Good met Kellye Carroll, a board member of The Crayon Initiative, she knew that she’d just made a connection that could touch many lives. “I visited your booth at last year’s Child Life Conference in Las Vegas. When I got back to work, I told everyone about it.” Good, a Manager of Child Life Services at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital, wasn’t alone. As fate would have it, a colleague had just seen The Crayon Initiative featured in a national news segment and felt the same way. Together, they figured out a way to get Yale New Haven Health involved.
Crayons are used widely throughout the hospital system.
A few months later, in the fall of 2017, Yale New Haven Health, now a hospital partner of The Crayon Initiative, received its first shipment of 200 packs of crayons. Since then, 600 (as of today) additional packs have been donated with more slated to ship over the coming months. For Yale New Haven Health, a hospital system serving multiple locations, the extra art supplies are needed. “As a health system, we have more than just one physical location,” says Good. “We distribute the crayons we receive to five other locations that we staff, ranging from clinics, to emergency rooms, and MRI centers. Putting together packets with these types of materials to send to outpatient sites has been extremely helpful.”
Crayons find their way into various outlets around the hospital system, including the Arts for Healing program which enlists the talents of art and music therapists and local artists to provide daily group activities and bedside sessions that cultivate creative expression for patients.
Kids enjoy having a variety of crayon colors and receiving a full box.
While the hospital has received other crayon donations in the past, according to Good, there is a noticeable difference with The Crayon Initiative crayons. “We were often limited to certain colors given budget constraints and the need for infection control. The kids enjoy getting whole boxes with a variety of crayons.” Of the texture, Good shares that when the old crayons are melted down and remolded, the new crayons take on a “different rainbow or flavor.” Paperless, the crayons are easy to wipe down and sanitize, which keeps them in circulation longer.
Making art puts kids in control, eases the anxiety.
But the biggest benefit of having these crayons is the impact they have on the patients who use them. Good explains that when kids make art during their hospital experience, it gives them a way to express themselves and be in control of something when they feel like they can’t control anything, especially the illnesses for which they’re being treated. “The hospital is a very overwhelming environment and you feel out of control often,” says Good.
Creating art eases anxiety and helps kids say how they’re feeling, which is helpful, especially for younger patients.“ It is a vital part of being in the hospital,” says Good. “Having kids continue to just be kids is important. Coloring is something they would do outside of the hospital so why should it stop while they are in the hospital?”
Turning good experiences into action.
Kids aren’t the only ones excited about the crayons. So are their parents. “They are so impressed with the mission of The Crayon Initiative that they often ask how they can start crayon collection programs in their schools and neighborhoods,” says Good.
Good and her team echo that sentiment. “We have had a very positive experience with The Crayon Initiative. The staff here at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital feel like The Crayon Initiative provides a very nice product with beautiful presentation. We’re happy to be a partnering hospital. “