Expressive Therapies & Programs

Art Therapy

Art therapy is the therapeutic use of art to help people self-express and cope. Many young patients have difficulty verbalizing their feelings surrounding diagnosis, illness, and hospitalization. Through creating art and reflecting on one's process and product, young patients can experience a non-threatening outlet for expression, increased coping skills, distraction from symptoms and pain, and normalization. The healing power of art and creativity can help improve quality of life, while giving a voice to the unconscious. Art therapists are professionally trained clinicians in both art and therapy. Sessions can be provided to patients and families, either individually or in groups. Art materials are provided and no artist skills are necessary!

Bravery Hearts Logo

Bravery Hearts Bravery Beads

This program begins upon diagnosis for patients with cancer diagnosis that begins with a blank necklace and their name. After each event, experience or treatment the patient receives a specific bead to demonstrate each milestone. The necklaces represent and honor the experience of their cancer treatments, enabling the children to tell their unique story in a tangible, visual way.

Information about this program and how you can support it can be found here.

Bravery Hearts Bravery Beads for Cancer Treatment

Education / Tutoring

Children’s Hospital of New Jersey at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center provides daily tutoring for patients that meet specific criteria through an organization called Education Inc.

Information about this program can be found at

Family Resource Center

This is an area provided for patients and families to utilize to keep in communication with friends and family, research medical information or even to provide distraction/recreation from the hospital environment. This area is open Monday through Sunday from 9 AM to 9 PM.

Portable Playhouse, Inc.

The mission is to research, design and implement a program to create a happy, healthy environment for children through artistic expression. Volunteers through this program provide artistic activities for patients of all ages at the bedside. Information can be found at

Starlight Starbright Children’s Foundation

This is a non-profit organization that provides our hospital with a clown named Hug-a-me once a week to perform tricks and enhance smiles in out patients. They also sponsor monthly parties for out inpatient units (mardis gras, luau, jungle party, etc.) that allow a sense on normalcy and social interaction for patients and families. This organization also funds one Child Life Specialist salary annually in our pediatric inpatient unit.

Baby With Nurse in Costume

Patients at Luau Party

Child With Lei at Luau

Starlight Starbright Children's Foundation Logo

Therapeutic Playroom

This is an area dedicated to pediatric patients that provides recreational play which is commonly used for personal enjoyment, to combat boredom, and to facilitate normalization. Developmentally supportive play supports all aspects of the child’s development and is universal. Therapeutic play facilitates expression, coping, and mastery of the healthcare experience and helps to provide a sense of achievement within the healthcare setting. Medical interventions and invasive interactions with patients and families are not to be performed in the playroom due to it representing a “safe zone.”

Patients Sitting Around Table

Teen Lounge

Patients over the age of thirteen are able to utilize our teen lounge which offers a Wednesday night teen night, flat screen television, computers, and state-of-the-art video game systems to provide distraction from hospitalization. It also allows for patients of the same age facing the same difficulties to interact and not feel completely alone.

Volunteer Program

Child Life Volunteers help Child Life staff with age-appropriate activities for patients in the playroom and at the bedside. Child Life volunteers also help maintain a clean and safe environment by sterilizing toys as well as the playroom area. If you would like more information on volunteer opportunities within the Child Life department please contact Denise Clark of volunteer services at 973-926-6771.