Robots. Dragons. Snowmen. These are just a few of the things that Joe, a patient at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, has created out of clay.

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Some of Joe's recent creations

Dubbed Clay Studios, Joe’s weekly venture is full of “pure imagination” as he puts it, and is a chance for him to be creative and think outside of the box. But it’s also a distraction, an outlet for Joe that helps him calm down as he awaits an IV, or what he refers to as “the stick.”

Joe has a genetic disorder that has resulted in a missing enzyme. And while doctors and researchers await a new drug to assist with treatment, Joe visits Children’s once a week for care, up to five hours a stay.

“Joe is super anxious about needles,” his mom, Karin, says.

And the Arts & Healing Project at Children’s is helping to reduce that anxiety one art project at a time.

Joe looks forward to his weekly sessions with Carol Allesee, the Arts & Healing coordinator. Using Art Out of the Box kits, which are donated to the program, they create clay motifs and write stories to accompany them.

“I think for a little bit,” Joe says, “And then flash, flash, flash.”

The stories come to life.

Joe also looks forward to visits with “the Dude,” the host of Star Studio, Children’s own in-house TV channel.

“He loves the Dude,” Karin says. “He’s even been able to go on the show.”

Karin has seen the impact that the program has made on her son, sharing that once care is possible to give at home, Joe still wants to come to the hospital.

“He looks forward to being here. He wants to create art projects and hang out with the Dude. It’s amazing,” she says.

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Joe creating some new sculptures
with the Arts & Healing coordinator,
Carol Allesee.

The Arts & Healing Project is not supplemented by insurance and relies on donor support in order to continue. Karin has been so thankful for the program that she reached out to her company, Bell Mortgage, to see if they would provide a donation. They did, and their $1,000 gift will help patients at Children’s continue to benefit from the arts, a proven method for aiding in the healing process.

Children’s invites you to consider a donation as well by joining us at Starry Night, an evening of arts and healing, at Aria Jeune Leune in downtown Minneapolis on Friday, Oct. 11. Participate in a Parisian marketplace where you can support Children’s Arts & Healing project in hands-on ways, while learning how activities like Star Studio and Art Out of the Box impact patients like Joe. To learn more or purchase tickets, visit