T’Jae Gibson, whose daughter Grace Callwood of Abingdon is fighting her own cancer battle, sent along the following article she wrote about the birdhouse Grace designed as part of the Baltimore-area Cool Kids Campaign. The birdhouses designed by pediatric cancer patients can be seen in area malls. To make a donation in Grace’s name, visit http://www.coolkidscampaign.org/product/donation/
Houses of Hope; Harford County pediatric cancer patient fights disease through art
“I want to find a quicker cure for cancer that won’t hurt grownups or children.”
That’s eight-year-old Grace Callwood’s wish, and the inspiration behind her support of Baltimore-based Cool Kids Campaign’s Houses of Hope project, an initiative that invites Baltimore area pediatric cancer patients to express themselves artistically by decorating plain, wooden birdhouses.
The initiative began in 2009, when one of several donated wooden birdhouses constructed by an area grandfather and grandson team was given to MacKenzie Stuck, of Mount Airy, Md., to help ease her home-bound state. At that time, Stuck was suffering from her third brain tumor. At age 13, she died in 2010 after a fourth tumor was found; but she was able to finish decorating the birdhouse before she passed. Hers was the first bird house featured in the exhibit that now simultaneously runs at three of GGP Properties’ malls — Towson Town Center, White Marsh Mall, and The Mall in Columbia — to create awareness about pediatric oncology, Cool Kids Campaign, and the talents of “cool kids,” the pediatric cancer patients.
Each house is hand-painted by a child who is either currently living with cancer or is in remission. Children who have passed away are represented as well through houses that their families have painted. They have all used the houses as a medium to convey their interests, likes and journey through cancer.
Callwood was diagnosed in October 2011 with stage IV Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. She entered remission in November 2011 but continues chemotherapy treatment until Spring 2014.
“Sometimes I wish I didn’t have cancer, but then I remember all of the organizations, foundations, groups and people who do things to take my mind off cancer. I also made friends at the hospital who have cancer,” said Callwood, a budding dancer who enjoys math and reading. “When I go to school, my friends don’t treat me any different. I still go to amusement parks and water parks, I still climb the tree in my front yard, I still sing in the kids’ choir at church, and I go to Kids For Christ meetings and activities.”
Callwood’s birdhouse will be on display at the White Marsh Mall from August 6 – 11. Everyone is invited to visit the exhibit and make donations to Cool Kids Campaign in Grace’s honor at http://www.coolkidscampaign.org/product/donation/
For each online donation, email Sharon@coolkidscampaign.org indicating support of Grace Callwood’s house and the amount donated. Or, mail donations to Cool Kids Campaign, c/o Grace Callwood’s Bird House, 8422 Bellona Lane, Suite 102, Towson, MD 21204.
The Cool Kids Campaign is a local nonprofit devoted to making the lives of pediatric oncology patients better while they go through their cancer treatments. The Houses of Hope initiative brings much needed awareness to pediatric cancer in general. Annually in the Baltimore area alone, Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital, University of Maryland Children’s Hospital and Children’s Hospital at Sinai treat hundreds of children for various cancers.