\n\n\n\n\n\n\nNEW YORK (AP) \u2014 The virus pandemic won\u2019t stop Charlie Brown, Snoopy or the \u201cPeanuts\u201d gang from marking an important birthday and they\u2019re hoping to raise the spirits of sick kids while they celebrate.\nThe beloved comic celebrates its 70th anniversary this week with new lesson plans, the announcement of a new TV show and a philanthropic push that includes donating \u201cPeanuts\u201d murals for kids to paint in 70 children\u2019s hospitals around the globe, from Brooklyn to Brazil.\n\u201cWhen kids see the familiar face of Snoopy, they feel like they are at home watching the cartoon,\u201d said Dr. Kusum Viswanathan, who heads the pediatrics department at Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center in New York. \u201cI think it\u2019ll really help in positive coping and distraction. It makes the environment very comfortable, as opposed to being very stiff and professional.\u201d\nThe 4-foot-8-inch wide by 4-foot-1-inch high murals have been sent to participating hospitals in six pieces, along with smocks, brushes and paints in 13 colors. Children and hospital staffers are encouraged to paint the easy-to-follow templates, a diversion that gains even more importance during coronavirus restrictions.\nThe initiative is being welcomed at the CHOC Children\u2019s Hospital in Orange, California, where the virus pandemic has shut down the playrooms and cut back on starry, well-wishing visitors, like baseball star Mike Trout.\n\u201cThere\u2019s really nothing to look forward to so I thought even just painting something like this at bedside is going to really truly mean something, especially during this time,\u201d said Amber Chavez, the special programs coordinator.\nThe finished murals show an image of Snoopy and Woodstock sharing a laugh atop his red doghouse. It\u2019s co-sponsored by Peanuts Worldwide and the Foundation for Hospital Art. They hope the custom murals bring a smile to worried families.\n\u201cArt is always very therapeutic,\u201d Viswanathan said. \u201cAny child who comes \u2014 even if a child comes for a regular check-up \u2014 it\u2019s always a slightly scary event and I think it helps patients feel a sense of normalcy.\u201d\nJeannie Schulz, the widow of the comic strip\u2019s creator, Charles Schulz, said the initiative hopes to lower the fear level in hospitals: \u201cIf you can have a little bit of levity \u2014 a little smile \u2014 we know that lowers your blood pressure. It\u2019s almost as good as patting a dog.\u201d\nHow each hospital deploys the murals has been left to the local administrators. Brookdale let lots of children paint them in its auditorium, while the California hospital wants to give one panel each to four patients and two nurses. The hope is the finished murals will offer children a chance to leave a permanent mark on the facility.\n\u201cThey could come to the hospital for their next check-up and see their mural is out there and they provided the painting maybe for the head or the stomach or whatever part of Snoopy that they did,\u201d Viswanathan said.\nScott Feight, the executive director, of the Foundation for Hospital Art, said the murals represent a chance to \u201ccelebrate humanity and our ability to overcome and fight this virus.\u201d The nonprofit over the years has donated more than 49,000 paintings to 7,500 hospitals in 195 countries.\nOther initiatives launching to celebrate the \u201cPeanuts\u201d anniversary include an animated video campaign on social media urging viewers to be kind to each other, Earth and themselves. There\u2019s also a new Apple TV+ animated show debuting in February called \u201cThe Snoopy Show.\u201d\n\u201cPeanuts\u201d made its debut Oct. 2, 1950. The travails of the \u201clittle round-headed kid\u201d Charlie Brown and his pals eventually ran in more than 2,600 newspapers, reaching millions of readers in 75 countries.\nThe 1965 CBS special \u201cA Charlie Brown Christmas\u201d won an Emmy and rerun immortality, and many other specials followed. There was a hit stage musical, \u201cYou\u2019re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.\u201d The characters also appeared on sheets, stationery, amusement park attractions and countless other products. Apple TV+ debuted \u201cSnoopy in Space\u201d in 2019.\nJeannie Schulz said her husband managed to create \u201crecognizable characters that express the humanity of each of us. It hits on a lot of cylinders.\u201d\nThe strip offered enduring images of kites in trees, Charlie Brown trying to kick a football, tart-tongued Lucy handing out advice for a nickel at what looked like a lemonade stand and Snoopy taking the occasional flight of fancy to the skies of World War I. Phrases such as \u201csecurity blanket\u201d and \u201cgood grief\u201d are a part of the global vernacular. Schulz died in 2000.\nThe hospital administrators say that \u201cPeanuts\u201d teaches children that the world is big enough for everybody, appreciate the small things and embrace friendships. Those lessons, they say, fit with their mission.\n\u201cIt teaches about kindness and friendship,\u201d Viswanathan said. \u201cIt teaches our children that life has challenges but with support from friends, you can solve problems. I think it teaches them not to give up.\u201d\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThe post Good grief! \u2018Peanuts\u2019 celebrates 70th anniversary with art appeared first on Caribbean Life News.