Steve Brosnihan draws for kids in hospital

With so much gloom and doom in the industry, I couldn’t help highlight a heartwarming story that was reported in about cartoonist Steve Brosnihan that has been drawing and teaching cartooning to sick children twice a week at his local hospital since 1991.

From the article:

Steve visits with six or seven patients every Tuesday and Thursday night, teaching them how to draw using his own “Cartoonagram” method, which he recently fashioned into his first instruction book (see related story). Cartoonagrams can be taught to anyone who knows the alphabet, as they’re based on letters of the alphabet and linked to a key word or phrase, says Steve, who also teaches drawing in schools throughout Rhode Island.

The idea for the method started percolating not long after Steve started volunteering at the hospital in 1991.

“I found that a lot of the kids were very uncomfortable in listening to directions like, ‘Make a line that looks like that,'” says Steve. “To take the pressure off, I’d say, ‘Make a C, an S, an O. And the kid would say, ‘Yeah, I’ll make a letter.’ I realized maybe this was the right way to do it. Don’t use abstract terms; use what you know and make letters.”

With the long history he has at the hospital, it sounds like he’s often used as a tool by the nurses who know he can go in a settle (or distract) a child.

Sometimes, the nurses will ask him to sit with a child who needs immediate attention – a scared kid who’s having an acute asthma attack, for example. “Just by distracting them with what I do, it can be helpful to the nursing staff,” says Steve.

Paula Most, the arts coordinator for Lifespan, says Steve’s presence is a welcome diversion for patients, and most kids connect right away to cartooning. “He can certainly engage a child and in a hospital setting, it gets them thinking about things other than their medical condition. It helps normalize the situation for the children,” she says.

2 thoughts on “Steve Brosnihan draws for kids in hospital

  1. That’s very cool. That’s the kind of thing that I’d like to see the cartoonist organizations doing more of during their get-togethers. I think cartoonists as a whole need to find more ways to be involved in communities. We need more reasons to be viewed as assets rather than liabilities, and as cartoonists, we have a natural connection to people, especially kids.

  2. That’s great. Kudo’s to Steve – twice a week is a lot of time and energy. I generally make it once per month for an only an hour to our local children’s hospital. It does seem to take their minds off of why there are there. I like the idea of using instructions that include letters and numbers. Very clever.

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