Harris' Heroes: Tracy's Kids provides art therapy for kids with cancer

WASHINGTON (WJLA) -- Five-year-old Ayana Ruslan likes to do art. But this isn’t an ordinary art room.

“Sometimes I come here for finger poke,” said Ayana.

Ayana and the other children are at the Pediatric Outpatient Cancer Clinic at Georgetown University Hospital. And the room filled with art supplies and toys is part of a special art therapy program called “Tracy’s Kids.”

Tracy Councill started the program at Georgetown for the young cancer patients more than 20 years ago. In 2009, the program became a nonprofit organization.

“We just kind of take the edge off a little bit and help them feel more grounded,” said Councill.

Parents appreciate the program.

“This is the medicine he needs. It’s something we have to do,” said Jeffrey Busch, who’s eight-year-old son Colin must spend long hours at the clinic. “We’re just grateful it’s here for us. Honestly, it makes a hard thing much easier.”

For patients like Abby Shapiro, too sick to visit the clinic, the art studio comes to their hospital room.

I’ve gotten a lot more into art since I’ve been here,” said Abby. “For me it’s just more of an outlet for some fun and something to do.”

Isiah Dixon used to play lacrosse before he was diagnosed with cancer. Thanks to Tracy’s Kids, he’s discovered a new hobby.

“I’ve been knitting a scarf for a couple of months now,” the 16-year-old said with a laugh.

“Art therapy is never going to cure anybody’s cancer,” admitted Councill. “What we are able to do is help patients and families find a way to get through one day at a time.”

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