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The Zone’s Teen Art & Literary Magazine

spring 2019


“Rainbow Art” by Taloni Williams, 11

Spring 2019 Editor-in-Chief Sarah Dohrmann Creative Writing Specialist from Teachers & Writers Collaborative

Guest Teen Editor Karla De Léon Thanks to Russell Mindich and family, and to the staff of the Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy Department of the Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital.

Co-Executive Editors Diane Rode Child Life & Creative Arts Therapy Director Asari Beale Executive Director of Teachers & Writers Collaborative

To view this issue online visit: Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital 1184 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10029 212-241-6797

Founding Editor Russell Mindich Art Directors Christina Auriemma Creative Arts Therapy Coordinator Jaclyn Damiano Facility Dog Coordinator and Creative Arts Therapist

Teachers & Writers Collaborative 540 President Street, 3rd floor Brooklyn, NY 11215 212-691-6590

Audio Director Naeun Lee Music Therapy Intern Interested in contributing to our next issue of SURGE?

Graphic Designer Melissa Alvey Art Therapy Intern


Send creative writing to Sarah Dohrmann, our Editor-in-Chief:

Be sure to check out our new audio files featured in this issue! Throughout the issue you’ll hear patients play their music or read their writings aloud!

How? There are 3 ways! 1. Use your smart phone’s camera to scan the QR codes featured on a page. 2. Download any QR code reading app and scan the QR codes­by using your phone’s camera. 3. Search the links in any internet browser.

Try this QR code to hear this issue’s entire audio playlist!

For art and audio, contact Christina Auriemma, our Creative Arts Therapy Coordinator:


Table of Contents 12 “I”


QR Code Feature Artwork by Batsheva Greiper

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Table of Contents Paper plate paintings by Kayla Griffith


Letter from Sarah Editor-in-Chief Letter from Karla Guest Teen Editor

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Different Art “My Uno Names” by Japheth Martinez-Alvarez


“Grateful” by Christopher Renna Photograph by Marian Cepeda



by Michell Oriana M. Circle artwork by Batsheva Greiper Be Free by Jandalese Loubriel

Rainbow “Sounds of the Rainbow” by Sophie Grande 15 “Your Fight Is the Cure” by Jasire McBeth 14


Painting by Alexis Isler “My Tower” by Ingrid Sandóval

18 “My Self-Portrait” 19 “My Secret Self-Portrait” by Eshanie Henry Fuerza y Alegria by Kiamaly Cabrera-Ureña 20 “14 Stops to Home” 21 Watercolor painting by Karla De Léon

Zone 1 “Reu” by Karla De Léon 11 “Where I’m From” by Uriel Solis 10

22 “My Hospital Life” 23 Artwork by Japheth Martinez-Alvarez



Karla’s Q&A with Alex Jamison


Artwork by Kayla Norvis 27 “Someday You Will Be Loved” by Lissenny Florentino 28 “521B” by Gabriela De Léon 29 “Love Is Weird” by Karla De Léon Sculpture by Aijanee Fulchon Choose Happiness by Kayla Collins 31 “Don’t Always Be Aggressive, Try to Get Along” by Darius Benjamin 30


Pottery “Popping Pop!” by Shanasia Hills 37 “Untitled” by Aaliya Wright 38 “Change Will Come” by Kayla Collins 40 “A Visitor Becoming the Patient” by Emily Mahoney 41 “Essence of My Mom” by Amari Barber Painting by Kiamaly Cabrera-Ureña


Artwork of Professor by Ruth Marks 33 “Adventures with Amos” by Kayla Gumbs 34

Painting by Noa Lifschitz 35 “Dear New Kidney” by Tyana Young

Paper plate paintings by Kayla Griffith, 11


Dear Readers, Welcome to the very first collaborative publication between the Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy Department at Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital and Teachers & Writers Collaborative (T&W), a New York City nonprofit that seeks to educate the imagination by offering innovative creative writing programs for young people and adults. Get ready to embark on many journeys as you read these pages. The writers, musicians, and artists published here, most of whom have experienced hospitalization at Mount Sinai and a few of whom are teen writers from the T&W community, travel to numerous places both literal and figurative. They ride from home to the hospital and back again; they go on adventures with Amos (one of the hospital’s Paws and Play therapy dogs); and they ultimately land in the loving arms of supportive family, friends, and hospital staff for whom they express deep gratitude. Special thanks to Diane Rode, Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy Director, and Jordan Dann, the former Education Director of T&W who developed the newfound partnership between Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital and T&W. We look forward to a long and glorious journey together! Sarah Dohrmann Editor-in-Chief


Welcome to the Spring 2019 Edition of SURGE! SURGE is a magazine that allows kids like me to express feelings of happiness, sadness, and anger—a place to have a voice of their own, a voice where everyone will be heard. When you hear about SURGE, you might just see it as a book with words and pictures, but you’re wrong. Yes, it does consist of those things, but they’re words and pictures filled with emotion, trauma, and experience—things that I relate to and things kids in my position think about a lot. It helps me to tell my story, helps me to forget about my illness, and helps me to help other kids to smile. When kids have an outlet that enables them to share a piece of themselves with others, it just makes it easier to be who they are. They don’t have to hide or pretend to be somebody they’re not. All they have to do is be a kid. Karla De Léon Guest Teen Editor


Acrylic painting, Different Art, by Japheth Martinez-Alvarez, 12


My Uno Names Japheth Martinez-Alvarez, 12 They call me the Uno Master The have-faith-in-yourself winner the strategist constructor the patient conductor havin’ fun with

Listen to Jap heth rap “My Uno Nam es!”

numbers and colors and that’s just a few of the Uno names I have


Grateful Christopher Renna, 18

That I could have friends looking out for me and I for them. That being intelligent helps me to stay on my path. That having a lot of patience will help me succeed in life. To my family who made sure I grew up making the right choices to have a mature character. To my friends who make everything look better after a long day of school. To my family who decided to bring me to this country to increase my future opportunities. I love you, I look out for you, I trust you. Although sometimes I am invisible. I love you, I look out for you, I trust you. 8

Photograph by Marian Cepeda, 19


Artwork in chalk pastel, Zone 1­, by Karla De Léon, 17

“Reu­,” Karla De Léon, 17


Hear Karla’s music called “Reu,” featuring Karla on chimes and her sister, Gabriela, on the ocean disc. Karla’s music was inspired by her grandmother’s house in Guatemala, which is also depicted in her artwork, Zone 1.

Where I'm From Uriel Solis, 15

I still remember my house back in El Salvador, like if I was there Each room, each door, each brick, each one of the roof tiles I see the cows in the corral los gallos singing to the sun every morning cars raising dust through the streets I can hear the kids running to the soccer field every day after school, going to buy pupusas y jugo de tamarindo There is nothing like the cheese melting in the grill y todos peleando por comercelo I went to the river almost every day swing and play in the fresh and clean water. And when the clock got to 4:00pm it was time to go and bring the cows back And at the end of the day my grandma waiting with the plate in the table, tortillas, arroz y frijoles.


I Michell Oriana M., 16 I dream about life Dreams about my feelings I won’t let my feelings decide for me I forgive everyone but never forget anything I will continue living and improving I am possessive but willing to let go for others or my own good I crave attention from the people I care about I forget my worth I hurt my own self I give love to those who don’t ask to be loved

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Acrylic painting, Be Free, by Jandalese Loubriel, 19

Circle artwork by Batsheva Greiper, 17


Rainbow, Sophie Grande, 15

“Sounds of the Rainbow” Sophie Grande, 15


Listen to Sop hie use the xylophone an d bells to cre ate “Sounds of th e Rainbow,” inspired by h er art work!

Your Fight Is the Cure Jasire McBeth, 14

To start off I was going to the hospital after an exhausting four days. During the first four days I felt fine but a little unsteady, which caused the impact from yesterday to be worse. When experiencing these things I feel hopeless, angry and hurt. Every Wednesday I check in with Lindsay, my therapist, and she helps me to find ways to cope. During these situations you will need to be strong and never give up on your life because that’s your most precious gem, which makes it even more valuable. My advice: Keep your self-esteem up and remember to fight for yourself not others, because the strongest fight is against your illness. Additionally, keep a positive mood and try to cooperate with the doctors. Your fight isn’t against your family, friends, or your doctor. Your fight is in you, which means you have the power to fight it away. Never give up. 15

Painting by Alexis Isler, 8


My Tower Ingrid Sandóval, 17

Marilyn: If I tell you about my health, you’ll cry with me. Julius: You tell me it’s going to be okay and then I feel more positive and hopeful. Diana: I remember two years ago, when it was your birthday, and you came to see me in the hospital— unfortunately the wrong hospital—but still I felt cared for. Luz: You ask me privately how I’m doing. “I’ll give you my kidney if you want one!” you all say. If I have to tell someone something, I know you’re all going to be there. I have someone to run to. Thank you.


My Self-Portrait

Eshanie Henry, 20

I’m newly twenty years old and I wear glasses —sometimes. Other times the world can be as blurry as my thoughts. I have dark hair. Its color remains the same while I trade the styles often. Braids or curls, waves or straight —changing as often as the sun rises and sets and as quickly as I speak. 18

My Secret Self-Portrait Eshanie Henry, 20

I have the most vivid dreams. Sometimes they are happy. Flying free. Yet on these days I wake up sad, disappointed that my dream has come to an end. Other times aren’t so happy— the complete opposite, in fact. Falling. And I wake up unsettled, but glad that it’s over. Then my day continues. And, much like my dreams, it is vivid.

Painting, Fuerza y Alegria, by Kiamaly Cabrera-Ureña, 17


14 Stops to Home

Karla De LĂŠon, 17


Secret cities live inside me I live in secret cities I speak the language of the drums that come from the old Panamanian men outside the barber shop “Let me get a bacon with cream cheese on a bagel. I got an apple juice too.” “That will be $3.50.”

I can barely squeeze out the door as faces bump me on their way for their dollar coffee I hit somebody with my scooter I dip before I make them late There goes the Q train— construction workers, mothers, kids, teachers keep looking out towards the tracks as if that’s going to make the train come faster Inside me, the 11-year-old me can’t keep shut As I reach my stop, the 17-year-old me just remains silent Watches everybody go up the stairs their footsteps hitting the 2-count the 4-count Now I look out my hospital window wanting to step out and get on the Q train Former patients, MTA workers, babies with their nannies, 14 stops to Church Ave and I get home

Watercolor painting by Karla De Léon, 17


My Hospital Life Japheth Martinez-Alvarez, 12

I’ve been here a whole month and it’s unfun Every day I have to stay in bed and I wonder why I’m still here My doctor says I have to do chemo and tests I get woken up at 6 a.m. just to do my vitals Every day a teacher comes to teach math and science reading and social studies I feel bored I watch TV and play Uno and Nintendo and wear cool glasses And soon I will walk around outside Where it will be bright and shiny little kids playing birds chirping And I won’t have to wake up at 6 in the morning And no one has to bother me I will feel relaxed and happy May I never see this hospital again


Artwork in oil pastel, Mysterious Art, by Japheth Martinez-Alvarez, 12


Guest Teen Editor

Karla’s Q&A with

Alex Jamison

Zone Therapeutic Recreation Specialist Karla: How did you end up in the Zone? Alex: I was looking for a job and—I honestly don't remember exactly how this happened—but someone emailed me about a job here at Mount Sinai and I read up on it and I was like, “This sounds perfect. I think this could be a really good fit.” So then I applied for the job, interviewed a couple times; it was kind of a long process to get here, but once I started working here it kind of felt like magic, like this was where I am supposed to be working. And I love it! Karla: So did you always see yourself working with children or was that new to you as well? Alex: I've worked with children before. I've worked with children for a long time—like, you know, babysitting, camp-counseling. And then through college I only worked with adults, and so I kinda thought, hmm, I think I like working with adults—until I started working with kids again. And I knew that that's what I love. Karla: Cool. So you say this place is like magic and you wouldn't see yourself working anywhere else, but if you weren't here—like say the Zone didn't exist— where would you see yourself now? Alex: Now that I know HOP exists, I would definitely want to work with HOP [Hospital Outreach Program from Camp Hole-in-the-Wall] because I think they also have so much creativity and so many resources and bring something really special into hospitals. Also, I love Broadway—you know this about me— so maybe if I wasn't here, I'd be auditioning for Broadway shows. 24

Karla: So you come here and you play with us. It's kind of like therapy. How do you think that helps us? Because we're always here. Alex: I like to think that I am part of helping kids forget that they're in the hospital. What I like to focus on is creating a space that kids can forget everything that's happening upstairs. Forget all the beeping, all the noise, all the people running in and out of their rooms and just having a safe space to come and do what they want to do for once. And have time for themselves, away from a majority of the adults and just get to be themselves and be around other kids. Karla: What do you see as a safe space? Like, what do you surround yourself by? Alex: Personally? Or what I want for the kids? Karla: I guess both. Alex: Personally, a safe space for me would be somewhere I feel comfortable just being my silly self. And I think that I want that for the kids too. It's a judge-free zone; you're allowed to do what you're interested in and no one's going to judge you for what you want to do. I think also a safe space to be vulnerable, because obviously no one wants to be here, so whatever form of expression you want to have down here, you're allowed. Karla: That sounds like fun. Alex: [laughs] Karla: I miss being here. So since you're always in the Zone, what's your favorite thing to do in the Zone with the kids and stuff? Alex: Honestly, slime. Slime. It's just a crowd-pleaser. Everyone loves it, you get to get messy, it really just brings people together because you can talk about what makes it better, what yours is coming out like. [Sighs] Slime. It's really kind of taken over my life, but I'm embracing it. Karla: As you should, as you should. Thank you. Alex: Thank you so much! This was so fun. This is my first time being interviewed. 25

Someday You Will Be Loved...

Lissenny Florentino, 17


Artwork by Kayla Norvis, 16

You will look forward to your days, even the lonely ones. You won’t be alone. You’ll have the world to yourself. You will be able to do and don’t on your own. You will receive what you give and live life in a bliss. You will love and you will hate. You will figure it out. You will rise up without a handful of anguish. There will be no need to look behind. Defend your rights, don’t ever stay behind. You will find the love that you’re craving. You will be beautifully loved, so perfectly imperfect that you will yet not believe. Love him, love her, love them—you can do it all. You will be unbothered by the selfish world. You won’t remember the bad days, but you will live in the good ones. You will embrace yourself as the woman you were born to be. And with the light of the sun vanishing away, You will leave memories, You will encourage others, You will do it all. And most of all, you will be loved. 27


Gabriela De LÊon, 20 Love is‌ Never absent never running from but towards you My mother chopping fruit up for me without having to ask her My father bringing me baconeggandcheese in the morning lying on top of one another and not saying anything even when your foot falls asleep In the silence in the quiet moments Never leaving, never quitting, staying still in the uncomfortable In the laughing bouncing around the room In the huddle of gossiping In the sharing of memes like trying to say hey I’m thinking of you laugh with me My mother reminding me to stand up tall In the vulnerable moments In the wanting to understand one another In the choosing of one another


Love Is Weird Karla De Léon, 17 Love is… when my mom yells at me for leaving my socks behind my pillow tough love, happy love, puppy love, first love because they all end with the same thing: love Love is when you don’t apologize for your awkward silence they’ll just know you’re being louder than ever Love is weird and uncomfortable, but that’s the beauty of it Love isn’t supposed to be easy if it were, nobody would question it. Love is actually confronting the awkwardness

confronting the weirdness, confronting the silence

Why is love so uncomfortable?

Love is something only one can experience, and one can learn to accept and let in Love is when somebody gives you a five-minute hug

and not feel awkward

when you can give a five-minute hug


Sculpture by Aijanee Fulchon, 19 July 1999–April 2019


Choose Happiness, by Kayla Collins, 15

Don’t Always Be Aggressive, Try to Get Along Darius Benjamin, 12

Aggressive is a creature that fights in the jungle, the forest, and the sea. Aggressive eats meat and insects. Aggressive is always angry and lives in

a broken-down house with people

fighting every day.

He doesn’t get sad, he’s just mad all day. He doesn’t have any friends because he’s

Aggressive—but he spends time

with two feelings. One of them

is Frustrated and one of them is

Enraged. If you hang out with people that have

different feelings – if they’re Sad,

Happy, or Hurt, you can understand

their feelings.

When Aggressive hangs out with different

feelings, he can become different—

like Sad or Happy. 31

Artwork of Professor by Ruth Marks, 16


Adventures with Amos Kayla Gumbs, 14

Amos makes me happy I love dogs Most dogs are cool, except Amos is a goldendoodle and is friendly If Amos were a flower, he’d be a daisy He’s a fluffy cloud a quiet afternoon a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup He’s like Hawaii, where you can relax on the beach with a towel and sunscreen and sandwiches and a big bottle of water

Listen to Kayl a recite her p oem, “Adventures with Amos”!

Before Amos visits me, I feel depressed (being in the hospital is depressing), but when Amos comes it’s extreme happiness because he’s a dog and his fur is soft and he swims like me!



Watercolor painting by Noa Lifschitz, 16

Dear New Kidney Tyana Young, 15

Dear New Kidney, I’m happy to have you. Now I can live life more. I can enjoy it by going out more, spending more time with my friends. Life was stressful before you. I was really tired all the time. I was on dialysis three times a week. I had no social life and barely went to school. But now, I get to eat whatever I want—ice cream, pizza, a lot of dairy stuff—and I get to go to amusement parks and not have to worry about being too tired or too swollen. I can keep up more now. Thank you for making my life better. Sincerely, Tyana


Pottery by Shanasia Hills, 13 the nasia on H ear S ha r using d her siste n a rd a o b music key c to create ! is d n a e c er y the o y her pott inspired b

“Popping Pop!� by Shanasia Hills, 13


Untitled Aaliyah Wright, 14

Katherine is 16 and lives with her grandmother and her mother. She’s

very compassionate and funny, but she doesn’t feel loved by her mother. She feels insecure, which is why she tries to get love from a boy who she likes from her school. She tries to date him and she actually really likes him, but after two months, she realizes he only wants one thing.

She dumps him, and goes to her mom to talk to her, but her mom

says it’s her fault. “You should’ve known he only wanted one thing,” her mom says. Katherine gets into a big argument with her mom, who says that having Katherine was a mistake. “You should go to your dad’s house!” her mom shouts. Katherine moves out to her dad’s.

At her dad’s house, Katherine explains everything to him and he gives

advice. Up to this point, she’d spoke to her dad but only on occasion. Her dad says that’s why he left her mom, because she was too hard to please.

Within a month, her dad takes her mom back to court and gets custody

of the daughter. The mom agrees. Katherine lives with her dad and his wife and her half-brother who’s three.

After five months, the mom realizes she misses her daughter. They keep

distance and it helps. They still communicate, but for now the distance is good for them. LESSON: Finding love is something hard and it comes in different ways and it takes different struggles to find it! 37

Change Will Come Kayla Collins, 15

Emily is 15 with dark-brown hair. She’s thin and average height

for a girl. She has diabetes and she struggles with confidence, self-esteem, and self-love.

Emily wakes up early one morning and heads to the school cafeteria.

She immediately grows anxious when she enters because she can feel the closed-off tone of the place. She looks and sees a girl eating alone and it reminds her of herself. She tries to strike up a conversation by asking, “Is this seat taken?” The girls introduce themselves to each other.

Emily thinks it’s going well because she and Stella seem to be

enjoying each other’s company. The first bell rings. Emily and Stella head to class and say they’ll see each other later that day at lunch.

At lunch, Emily tries to go back and sit with Stella; however, Stella

is sitting with her boyfriend and ignores Emily. As Emily walks away, Stella tells a group of girls, “That weirdo was really trying to talk to me and thought we were gonna be friends!” She says this pointing at Emily.

Emily thinks to herself, “I’m used to that. I’m used to this. It doesn’t

really bother me.” But things like that always hurt.

Emily goes to the hospital for her monthly checkup, where she sees

a girl who is very reserved and looks sad. Emily goes up to her and learns her name is Sarah. She asks how long Sarah’s been going to the hospital. They


continue to talk about diabetes until Sarah is called for her appointment. Emily is quick to ask Sarah for her phone number or social media tag. Sarah’s face immediately goes into a big smile. They keep in contact.

Weeks go by. Emily and Sarah are still talking and have a great


Sarah transfers to Emily’s high school. The two grow closer

together, and decide they want a change in the school by hosting an anti-bullying assembly. They create an outreach program where bullied kids can go to a group meeting every week to talk about their experiences.

A month later, the group grows to 13 members and becomes really

tight. They go to museums, to Emily and Sarah’s houses, and they go out to eat. Within two months, their group grows major popularity throughout their town. They’re asked by multiple different schools to hold school-wide assemblies. Their Anti-Bullying Outreach Program (ABOP) becomes very successful throughout their county.

Emily’s confidence skyrockets because she finally believes she has

a place in society, and her social anxiety leaves because through ABOP, she has socialized with hundreds of teens and grew to enjoy it. She now promotes self-love as a side hobby when she’s not busy with ABOP. She coaches teens experiencing low self-confidence and social anxiety how to find things that they like, and that they want to see in other people.

You don’t always have to feel lonely.


A Visitor Becoming the Patient Emily Mahoney, 17

Outside it was cold and sunny the day I came in. Inside, coming in for the first time was a new experience for me because I have never had to be in a hospital for myself. Walking down the hallway on the fifth floor to my room, I heard a lot of different sounds. And hospitals and doctors’ offices always have a distinct smell to me. When you go the hospital for yourself or just to visit family or friends, you are always told not to look in the other rooms and to just walk straight. It felt a little weird for me this time because I was about to be like all the kids in the rooms I had passed to get to my room. Becoming the person that visitors walk past and take a quick glance at felt kind of annoying. I now understand that patients want privacy and are not out there to be looked at. I feel more compassionate towards people in the hospital. No one wants to be sick in the hospital. It’s not a vacation. I have spent a week here and many emotions come with staying at a hospital for more than a few days. It doesn’t just impact you as a person but it could also impact family and friends. I live pretty far away from this specific hospital, so I’ve only really been able to see my parents and my sister. I don’t want to be sick anymore and hopefully I won’t have to spend another week at a hospital. Being here gives you a better idea of what you love and who you love, and the sacrifices you have to make or the people around you have to make for you.


Essence of My Mom Amari Barber, 12

My mom is like fall

sometimes cold and sometimes warm

She’s like a cat

loving and playful

She’s like Ugg boots

keeps me protected

She’s like the color light pink

because she’s beautiful

When she sees me, she says, “Hey” She’s a red rose She’s noon on a Saturday

spending time with me

She’s hip-hop

moving to songs

I love you, Mom

Painting of a rose by Kiamaly Cabrera-Ureña, 17


“It helps me to tell my story, helps me to forget about my illness, and helps me to help other kids to smile.” xlii—Karla De Léon