Arts, Culture, and Humanities

Discovery Arts

aka Discovery Arts

Mission Viejo, CA


Discovery Arts provides the healing power of the arts to
children with cancer and other life threatening illnesses while they are
hospitalized for treatment. Our programs, called Arts Adventures, are fun, creative, interactive explorations of
music, art, dance and drama that strengthen the emotional health of critically
ill children and positively impact their treatment and recovery. By addressing children’s emotional needs, our
programs also provide essential, welcome support to both the medical community
and the children’s families.

Ruling Year


Co-Founder, Executive Director

Ms. Marilyn Clements

Co-Founder, President

Mr. Marilyn Clements

Main Address

23382 Madero Road, Suite C

Mission Viejo, CA 92691 USA


Discovery Arts, "Arts Adventures", Children with Cancer, Arts, Children's Hospitals, Children, Music, Art, Dance, Drama





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Arts Service Activities/Organizations (A90)

Patient Services - Entertainment, Recreation (E86)

Arts Service Activities/Organizations (A90)

IRS Filing Requirement

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Programs + Results

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Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

"Arts Adventures"

Where we work

Charting Impact

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According to the most recent national statistics from the American Childhood Cancer Organization, they state that, "Each year in the U.S. there are an estimated 15,780 children between the ages of birth and 19 years of age who are diagnosed with cancer. That is 1 in 285 children in the U.S.. Globally there are more than 250,000 children diagnosed. Childhood cancer diagnosis is and has been on the increase and rising for the past few decades. Life changes forever with this diagnosis. Children can't attend school regularly or participate in extracurricular activities. The residual effects of treatment leave many children disabled. They suffer the debilitating, painful effects of radiation and chemotherapy, reduced energy levels, weakened musculature and compromised immune systems. They're frightened, lonely and confused; they're often angry and withdrawn. The emotional trauma they experience is enormous and their need is great: they need a safe place to express their feelings; they need relief from the isolation and tedium of hospitalization; they need a sense of control in their life; they desperately need fun and normalcy. Unfortunately, these needs are largely unmet because the medical community must first focus on treating the physical child, and families are overwhelmed emotionally and financially as they struggle to cope. Within a framework of fun and laughter, Arts Adventures provide diversion from the isolation and tedium of hospitalization. They strengthen coping skills and increase children's self-esteem by helping them discover new skills and talents, and by providing constant, positive encouragement. Discovery Arts gives children something to look forward to and something upon which they can depend. Our programs create opportunities for children to interact with other children with critical illness, and to develop friendships with children and adults, both of which can have powerful emotional and health benefits. We give them a sense of control by letting them choose costumes, activities and degree of participation. Most important, Arts Adventures help critically ill children create, for a couple of hours, a world in which they're not sick; a world in which they can sing and dance and paint, and rediscover the happiness of normal childhood. The medical community has also recognized the benefits of our programs, evidenced by the following comment: "I have personally witnessed the power of Discovery Arts programs to improve the general outlook and attitudes of our hospitalized children and their families… One look at the faces of our patients and their families and I know you'll become a believer like me." Dr. Jerry Z. Finklestein, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at UCLA School of Medicine and Founding Director of Jonathan Jaques Children's Cancer Center It is our goal to reach as many children as we can, add new hospitals, new "Arts Adventure" programs and services as funding allows.

Discovery Arts is the only known organization that provides this specific type of interdisciplinary arts program on a consistent, on-going basis to hospitalized children. Hospital patient populations change constantly. While some children participate in our programs on a regular basis over the course of months or years, others may participate only a few times, depending on their particular illness and treatment schedule. And new cases are diagnosed every day.

Our programs are on-going to help meet this on-going need. Once we begin providing programs at a particular hospital, we strive to maintain those programs year round and for years to come. We add new programs in other areas of the hospitals and new hospitals are added to our roster as funding allows; new programs are implemented by increasing our ability to provide materials and supplies, and enlisting additional staff and volunteers.

Achieving consistent funding throughout the year is challenging and our small but mighty staff works constantly to achieve this. With the help of Foundations, Corporations, Individuals, Monthly Donors, Events and Fundraisers we have been able to sustain and grow our programs. We would like to take a bigger "jump" and be able to teach people across the U.S., how to do "Discovery Arts" in their local Pediatric Hospital's cancer units and medical surgery units. Every child in America who is going through this devastating disease, deserves to find hope, new life and discovery their artistic talents while learning to think creatively. It makes a huge difference for the children and their families while they are going through so much.

Discovery Arts was created in 1993 by arts and entertainment industry professionals who began volunteering their time and talents to provide music, dance, art and drama to children with cancer hospitalized at Jonathan Jaques Children's Cancer Center in Long Beach. Based upon the positive, enthusiastic response from the children, their families and medical staff, Discovery Arts was formally incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit agency in 1998 with the mission to expand the delivery of these creative experiences to many more children hospitalized throughout southern California.

Today, we provide regular on-going programs for the children at Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA, Miller Children's Hospital Long Beach, Jonathan Jaques Children's Cancer Center at Millers, CHOC Children's Hospital, Fountain Valley Regional Hospital and Medical Center, CHOC at Mission and at Mercy Children's Hospital in Springfield, Missouri serving more than 3,500 critically ill children each year.

The success of our programs have received special recognition and Awards from Disneyland (Leadership Award) and were awarded the only Disneyland Flashback Show recipient of 2010, The Samueli Foundation (Big Heart Award), CBS News “What's Right with Southern California", NBC News Feature with Cary Burgland, “Hometown Heroes" on Direct TV, along with many radio and television interviews and have received national recognition with our Spokesperson Cathy Rigby. Cathy, who recently completed the Broadway Tour of “Peter Pan" has recorded our first television PSA's that can be viewed on

We are working on building our Board and our Funding to enable us to meet our goals.

Discovery Arts began in 1993 as a volunteer effort serving children at Jonathan Jaques Children's Cancer Center in Long Beach. We became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 1998 and have consistently expanded our Arts Adventure programs and services to serve more than 3,500 children annually in six different southern California hospitals and now have expanded outside of California. We have grown from 1 full time employee, working in a living room, to 2 full time and 1 part time employees working from a small office with a committed group of contracted and volunteer support. We have expanded our volunteer pool to over 100 people and have partnered with corporations, community organizations and schools to support our efforts. Discovery Arts is very popular and we receive phone calls all the time from hospitals all over the country that would like our Arts Adventures in their hospital. The following comments best illustrate the indicators and outcomes of Arts Adventures: "Discovery Arts is a place to be normal, to have fun, to laugh and cry. All the children find a safety net there where (they) can put on costumes and dance and sing. It doesn't matter if you are bald or have tubes or poles, and the beeping from the IVs just add to the rhythm in the air … Mary Jayne has found a place to unleash her singing talents and has shared special moments with her Daddy dancing. It is a day we look forward to in… the endless days of the hospital and ICU and ventilators." Jacqui Nelson, mother “I want to thank Discovery Arts for being there for all the children when they're going through the hardest times of their little lives. Sasha has found a lot of comfort with Discovery Arts… thank you." Viveca Avila, parent The medical community has also recognized the benefits of our programs, evidenced by the following comments: "This program is extremely beneficial to our patients, families, and even staff! They help provide lifelong memories to our patients and families. Discovery Arts volunteers form lasting relationships with our patients by providing craft, music, dance, and dress-up activities. They make each child feel special by saving their favorite costumes and other toys and activities for subsequent admissions. We have many families that will come to visit Discovery Arts even when they have finished treatment, and others who will schedule doctor's appointments or admissions on Thursday so that they can participate in the Discovery Arts program… One parent of a child who recently finished treatment stated that “the only things they miss about the hospital are the playroom and Discovery Arts". If the Discovery Arts program was no longer involved with our hospital, patients, families and staff would definitely feel a huge loss. We cannot even begin to express how much Discovery Arts means to everyone here at Miller Children's Hospital!" Rose Mills BA CLS, Allison Singhi BA CCLS, Miller Children's Hospital

Over the past year and in spite of a challenging economy, we have successfully maintained all of our programs at Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA, Miller Children's Hospital Long Beach, Jonathan Jaques Children's Cancer Center at Millers, CHOC Children's Hospital, Fountain Valley Regional Hospital and Medical Center, CHOC at Mission and Mercy Children's Hospital in Springfield, Missouri, serving more than 3,500 children and their families.

We are constantly reminded by Child Life Staff and attending doctors and nurses that our programs and services are exactly what the children and their families need in this “pressure cooker" environment. It is our goal to keep duplicating our programs all over the country. Every child with cancer or life threatening illness deserves to be lifted up and have some fun and normalcy, especially in this horrific situation that is far from normal. All of our programs and services are free of charge to the hospitals, patients and their families. We rely on the support of individuals, corporations and foundations to survive and grow.

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Discovery Arts

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Board Leadership Practices

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SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?