They painted with pizazz. They created beautiful buttons. They laughed with a mime.

Before ArtPrize Nine takes over the streets of Grand Rapids, Michigan, young patients at Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital got a chance to create works of art through the ArtPrize Mobile Workshop.

Educators Allison Palm, Emily Pinter and Ian Thompson, wheeled the pop-up art-making experience into the hospital and led kids in a host of creative activities.

“Just seeing the kids, they are so strong and they have gone through so much,” Palm said. “And to be part of (the reason why) they are smiling is the best feeling I can experience.”

The visit is part of a mission to bring ArtPrize into the community, said Becca Guyotte, the education director.

She was particularly excited to bring the experience to kids in the hospital. Art and the creative process can be meditative and provide an avenue for self-expression.

“When you’re going through a hard time in your life, it’s extremely important to be able to articulate your feelings,” she said.

And for the kids and their families, she said, “It’s nice just to have a break. We are just there to have fun.”

A strolling mime joined the fun in the Children’s Garden outside the Balk Cafe. He juggled bean bags and bowling pins, performed magic tricks and invited smiles.

“To know that these kids had at least one hour today when they weren’t thinking about what was going on and they were just having fun … and because art did that, I get the greatest feeling,” Palm said.

ArtPrize, the annual competition that draws 500,000 visitors, runs Sept. 20 to Oct. 8.