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Local organization to receive prestigious award in Washington

By: Jesse Martinez
EL PASO, Texas El Paso children fighting against cancer and other serious illness put their creative energy to use and capture the national spotlight.

Children who are part of a nonprofit known as Creative Kids will receive the 2013 President's National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award this week at the White House.

It's almost hard to believe that for a child, a brush with a serious illness can be alleviated by a brush and paint.

"What we do is we come in four days a week, three hours a day and we work with pediatric oncology patients that are in the hospital for extended periods of time," said Andrea Gates-Ingle, executive director and co-founder of Creative Kinds. "So, we are able to get them out of the room and engage them in a visual arts program."

After 14 years in existence, Creative Kids has proof that painting kills pain.

"I forget that I'm in pain and I start focusing on what color looks better with the background," said Danashiya Pritchard, 12.

Danashiya was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia. She painted a floral portrait with Creative Kids one day when she wasn't well.

"I came home and my granny was crying; I thought somebody had died," Danashiya said.

But it turns out grandma was crying because Danashiya's painting was chosen to represent Creative Kids in Washington.

"At first, I thought, 'Oh, OK. It's just going to be something fun; there's no way I'm going to win," Danashiya said.

Creative Kids beat out 350 other programs for top honors.

Danashiya is among those who will represent El Paso and the work done at both Providence and El Paso Children's Hospital, which they hope will be modeled across the country.

"I'm going to give the opening speech before Mrs. Michelle Obama gives her speech, and basically I'm going to talk about my disease and how art helps me and makes me feel better -- because painting does make me feel better," Danashiya said.

Click here to watch the ceremony live Friday at noon.



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