Nonprofit Art with a Heart in Healthcare helps children battle illness through virtual art projects amid the coronavirus pandemic

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A local nonprofit is making sure that children battling an illness inside a hospital get the tools they need to find their inner artist.

Even though the artist behind Art with a Heart in Healthcare can’t meet in person, the organization is helping children heal during the pandemic.

Rue Ander, 7, is painting a picture with help from her favorite artist, Brooke McKinney.

McKinney works with Art with a Heart in Healthcare, a nonprofit that helps sick children in hospitals participate in art projects.

Five years ago, Rue was diagnosed with leukemia.

“She went through 26 months of treatment, she is now 2 1/2 years treatment-free, which is amazing, but definitely it’s a shocker when you get told your kid has a chronic or life-threatening illness,” said Casey Cohen, Rue’s mother.

It was art that helped her daughter get through her treatments and heal.

Normally an artist with Art with a Heart would come down to a hospital such as Wolfson Children’s Hospital to meet with patients, but because of COVID-19, they can no longer be in hospital settings.

Now the nonprofit is doing everything online.

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“There’s certainly a learning curve. To be on two screens right now on Zoom and having all this figured out. I’m pretty proud of myself,” McKinney said.

McKinney said while the nonprofit can’t meet face to face, they are giving patients art materials so they can still take their mind off being inside a hospital.

The organization set up virtual art sessions so patients and artists can meet throughout the week.

“I definitely miss seeing the kids in the hospital so I’m hoping this is just a temporary thing but we would like to keep our online resources,” McKinney said.

Art with a Heart in Healthcare has put all its resources online for free. If you’d like to check out the videos or donate to the nonprofit you can click here.