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Children's Behavioral Health Program Celebrates 25th Anniversary with Art Show

May 17, 2024 - Philanthropist Dr. James George Helps Fund New, Immersive Art Room

May 17, 2024

To commemorate 25 years of providing behavioral health services to young people in the region, Virtua’s CASTLE program will host a special art show featuring the inspiring and expressive creations of its participants. CASTLE, which stands for Children Achieving Success through Therapeutic Life Experiences, provides diagnosis and treatment for children ages 3 to 18 who are experiencing challenges like ADHD, anxiety, depression, or trauma. Art has long been an essential element of CASTLE’s curriculum, as it is proven to support creative exploration, self-expression, and healing.

CASTLE began in Camden 25 years ago, and a second location opened in Berlin, NJ, in 2017 due to increasing demand for specialized behavioral health services. A future third location, in Willingboro, NJ, is in the early stages of development. Approximately 250 children participate in CASTLE each year, with the length of enrollment based on each child’s personalized care plan.

Local Philanthropist Supports the Healing Power of Art
CASTLE’s two campuses each have dedicated art rooms for making and displaying paintings, sketches, sculptures, and more. The first opened in Camden in 2020 (with limited fanfare due to the pandemic); the second opened in Berlin in April 2024.

Both art rooms, along with all the supplies to support them, are possible due to the generosity of Dr. James E. George and the George Family Foundation. Dr. George is a man of many talents: In addition to being a highly regarded leader in emergency medicine and a healthcare lawyer, the Woodbury, NJ, resident is also a prolific abstract artist.

Dr. George discovered art as an adult while receiving six months of inpatient rehabilitation after suffering a brain and spinal cord injury.

“Art has an incredible impact. My deep commitment to ensuring that art is part of the healing process for children comes from my experience of how much art therapy has helped me throughout my journey,” he said. “It is an honor to provide the staff and children at Virtua’s CASTLE programs with the dedicated space and tools to use art and creative expression as a method for healing.”

Several of Dr. George’s pieces are now featured throughout the CASTLE campuses for patients, families, and staff to enjoy.

Dr. George’s generosity expands beyond Virtua. In January 2024, Virtua’s academic affiliate, Rowan University, announced the forthcoming George Family Center for Healing Arts. He has also supported art projects and installations at Inspira Health, Magee Rehabilitation Hospital, and the Boys and Girls Club of Philadelphia, among others.

Building Upon a 25-Year Legacy
National data suggests that the need for programs like CASTLE is far greater now than when it first opened in 1999. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that ADHD, anxiety, behavior problems, and depression are the most diagnosed mental disorders in U.S. children. Some of these conditions commonly occur together.

“At Virtua Health, we are dedicated to advancing health equity,” said Debra Moran, senior vice president of health equity and community programs for Virtua. “This means providing services and care that are specifically designed for vulnerable populations, notably children who cannot advocate for themselves.

“Population health takes all of us working together to make meaningful change. We are fortunate to have partners like Dr. George who are dedicated to supporting South Jersey.”