According to the American Childhood Cancer Organization, over 15,000 children in the United States under the age of 19 will be diagnosed with cancer or other chronic illnesses this year, and globally, every 3 minutes a pediatric cancer diagnosis occurs. At A Free Bird, we see firsthand how impactful creative expression can be during such a difficult time. Not only do the arts help children process complex emotions, find joy, and express things that they can’t always say in words. Studies have also found that engaging in the arts has numerous benefits to physical and mental health (Patient Empowerment Network, 2019).
A study on art, healing, and public health showed that artistic interventions improve clinical outcomes, reduce hospital stays, reduce pain and improve moods in patients contending with chronic diseases (American Journal of Public Health, February 2010).
Beyond the health benefits, arts education gives children something to look forward to during long days at the hospital, as well as a sense of personal accomplishment, a passion they can share with others, and an enduring love for the arts.
A Free Bird was founded in 2008 when multidisciplinary artist Godni Amir witnessed firsthand art’s potential to heal. His voice teacher, Gail, gave up teaching to become the primary caregiver for her husband when he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Soon after, she received a cancer diagnosis herself.
Gail’s husband tragically passed away. But Gail herself made a full recovery, spurred on by her passion for music and photography.
Since then, Godni has made it his goal to bring the therapeutic power of the arts to those who have the most to live for: children. Today, AFB programs brighten up hospital rooms, provide entry into performances, and inspire children to express themselves during and beyond their time of treatment.
Recognized and honored by New York City for our positive impact, we work primarily with hospitals and pediatric cancer centers in New York and New Jersey. A Free Bird has operated as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization since 2011.