Expressive Art, Movement & Music

Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital (CHBAH)


Helping traumatised, injured or sick children to express their pain and fear through creativity and play helps them to be more hopeful and happy, thereby improving their immune systems so that they can heal more quickly.

Our Project

Surgeons for Little Lives sponsor Janine Rech, is an Expressive Arts Facilitator, in both the Paediatric Burns and the Paediatric Surgery Units.

Janine has extended her services to the Charlotte Maxeke Orthopaedics wards for 2018!

Art plays an important role in uplifting the children’s spirits and there is often an obvious improvement in a their mood and behaviour after an art session. The children enjoy painting, drawing, collaging and STICKERS!

Janine Rech

Janine Rech

Our little patients also love music and they are encouraged by Janine to sing, move, dance and play drums. These activities help to improve both the mobility and flexibility of injured, stiff little bodies and complements the therapies that the children receive from the Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists and nursing staff in the units.

Janine also works with outpatients who have come for post-operative check-ups. She engages with caregivers and children together, showing them how to use art at home for opening up dialogue, expression and bonding.

Janine’s contribution to the wards is invaluable, making very sick little patients feel safe, proud and loved.

What we need

Donations of:

  • Pencils, pens, paper, coloured paper.
  • Paint sets with circles, crayons, kokis and paint brushes.
  • Glue sticks such as “Pritt”.
  • Children’s scissors and STICKERS!
  • Appropriate art equipment
  • Appropriate music equipment
  • Monetary donations

A big thanks to our donors

Thank you to Nadine Suttner for the donation of this wonderful art material towards Surgeons for Little Lives.


Expressive Arts Programme Report for 2020/2021

The last year in the Hospital environment has been different to previous years due to the Covid 19 pandemic, but whenever it was safe to do so, the Expressive Art Programme continued.

I work with the children at the Paediatric Burns Unit as often as permitted, but mostly I have been running the bi-weekly art sessions at the general Paediatric Ward 32.

Unfortunately, when The Charlotte Maxeke became a Covid 19 hospital, around April 2020, I had to discontinue our art programme there. Hopefully, once the hospital is restored after the fire and things are a bit more normal there, I can resume the programme in the Children’s Orthopaedic Ward again?

The Expressive Art & Play sessions have been really beneficial during these Covid times. Especially when the parents aren’t allowed to visit their children as they would normally. Having Nthabeleng, Tshepiso, occasional volunteers and me, who could be a Mom/Granny to them, definitely calms and settles the children. Ward 32 has the Library/Playroom, where we do our arts and crafts, painting, playing with Lego and cars and toys, watching TV and talking, is a really fantastic place for the children to be creatively productive and hang out. We all try to help the children feel as though hospital isn’t scary and lonely.

Nthabeleng and Tshepiso are very good with the children, very patient with the babies and have the added advantage of being able to speak extra languages. My limited Zulu helps a lot too. The girls help with the art sessions when they can and I believe they have learnt some art and facilitation skills during the times we work together.

When the weather is good, we take as many children outdoors to the playground as we can. We play out there and also set up art tables. We have had really good creative sessions out there.

At the Paediatric Burns Unit, I sometimes facilitate art sessions in the ward if the children aren’t mobile or if it’s a bit cold, or down in the gym/playroom if they are able. The children love going there, so it encourages them to walk and move. It is great to have the extra playroom space for when we can take the children out of their beds and into a much more fun environment. Having the doors there also allows the children to breathe in some fresh air and occasionally walk out into the sun.

I have established many great relationships with the doctors, nurses, OT’s, Physio’s, Sam and security staff. I do feel that they trust me with all the precious children and babies. Expressive Art and Play, music and movement etc. are very important in the children’s healing process, but most crucial is that they feel fully loved and cared for at the same time!

We’ve had some wonderful donations of art equipment, books and some beautiful toys. This has all helped greatly to fill up my art bags, the discharge packs and the library/playroom at Ward 32. The OT’s at the Paediatric Burns Unit have tidied and sorted the gym/playroom there, nicely and there seems to be enough books and toys etc. They also have much nicer pyjamas for the children than Ward 32. From what I see, the children’s pyjamas at Bara generally at the moment, are well-worn and they could do with heaps of new ones…linen and blankets too.



Over the last 8 months I have been privileged to have had some very clever, kind and compassionate volunteers helping me with the SFLL Expressive Arts programme. Jess Paul, Thulani Mzobe, Andrea Riem, Bibiana Machado, Morgan Tom Hall, Nadine Jossel Suttner, Donna Koekemoer, Tamsin Rhind, Denny Faddel Rhind, Caitlin Bond, Debbie Chard Smith, Yolanda Mbedzi and Amy Holden…have all given their time and energy and expertise, whenever they can. They have paid great attention to so many children and given them lots and lots of love, while helping them to paint, draw, do crafts, play and move. Often, these are children who are recovering from very traumatic accidents and illnesses, which can be emotionally and physically demanding on any caregiver.

It is wonderful to see how the children respond positively to so much love and care, while expressing their emotions in many creative ways.

From myself and on behalf of Surgeons for Little lives and the children, a HUGE THANK YOU to all of you fantastic people. I love working with you and sharing our experiences…I look forward to spending more time with you whenever possible. Everything for our children!

– Janine Rech

November 2018

Expressive Arts Sessions continue each week at the Paediatric Burns Unit at Bara Hospital and at the Children’s Orthopaedic ward at the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital.

There are a lot of children needing emotional support, as well as physical support when the doctors and nurses are extremely busy with some serious burn cases and limb and facial operations.

Art and play settle the children and the extra love and care make all the difference to them. Volunteers are very welcome to join Janine on Wednesday or Thursday mornings…High school children can offer some time which adds to their community work. You will get a letter of acknowledgement from Surgeons for Little Lives.

The colourful rainbow painting was done by a teenager with severe facial deformity, who happens to be a brilliant artist and future designer.

The drawings done by ‘P’, who has a leg injury, are of himself and his Dad and another of his Grandfather. The drawing of his Mom shows that she was injured too.

The yellow taxi was created by ‘S’, who lost half his foot by stepping on a broken bottle. ‘S’ has done a lot of paintings and drawings in the last two weeks, he likes art, his pictures have become more cheerful with time.

October 2018

Expressive Arts Sessions take place every week at Chris Hani Bara and The Charlotte Maxeke Hospitals.

Drawing and painting continues to help children heal emotionally from difficult experiences. The children range in age from toddler to 17 years old.

A common drawing theme for girls and boys, is a house. The children miss their homes while in hospital. Sometimes their homes have been destroyed by fire. And often they are drawing and painting their future homes.

Even though the art is mainly for expression and ability isn’t important, a lot of the children are very talented and get a lot of pleasure and fun out of the hours spent creating their masterpieces.

The children love making greeting cards with stickers and drawings too.
They also love building with Duplo and blocks.

One young 9 year old boy named ‘A’, in last weeks art session in the Orthopaedic ward at the Charlotte Maxeke hospital, was in a wheel chair because his leg has been severed in a train accident. After talking about his traumatic experience and how another young boy pushed him in front of the train, he drew the train and himself lying on the track. He then drew an new, more positive picture of his home and he spoke about life going forward. This process helped him to talk more to his mother, who came to visit him a bit later.

The different wards at the two hospitals differ in size, but most weeks at the Charlotte Maxeke, there can be 16 children and more benefitting from the Expresssive Art sessions.

Anybody wanting to assist with art as community work on a Wednesday or Thursday morning, please contact 


2017 was a wonderful year with Janine Rech as she continues to be our Expressive arts Facilitator. The kids love her and she is just too wonderful!!! Surgeons for Little Lives would like to thank you ever so much Janine for your contribution and wonderful work thus far, we look forward to yet another wonderful year with you… If you want to volunteer and be a part of our Expressive Art sessions with our Burns patients, please sign up for this volunteer program under the section Get Involved and we will get in touch with you.