September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Here are some of my favorite nonprofits and organizations that support families.
When Sara Olsher was diagnosed with cancer at age 34, her first thought was her 6-year-old daughter. As a single mom, the two were incredibly close, and Sara was deeply worried about her daughter’s mental health.
“I worried a lot about whether I would be okay, of course, but it was all about how cancer would impact my daughter,” Sara said. “I know I can deal with almost anything, but I wasn’t sure if my daughter could.”
Sara’s first order of business was to find a children’s book to explain her diagnosis. Unfortunately, what she was looking for — a book that explained the actual science of cancer in an age-appropriate, non-scary way — didn’t exist.
As an illustrator, Sara had enough experience to put together a book on the topic, which she published through her company Mighty + Bright. The book is called What Happens When Someone I Love Has Cancer and now has well over a hundred five-star ratings on Amazon and is used in hospitals across the United States.
As it turns out, this book was just the beginning.
Throughout her treatment, Sara desperately wished for some way to make cancer easier. Her explanation took the fear out of cancer for her daughter but did nothing to manage the chaos and stress of long-term cancer treatment. Sara relied on her “village” to help with school drop-offs and pickups, meals, and more, and her daughter was often confused about who would be in the house each day. She worried that someone would forget to pick her up at school.
Sara also struggled to come up with ways to stay emotionally connected to her daughter. Games of tag and play dates in the park were now replaced with long stretches of time where Sara was too exhausted to even come up with activities to do from the couch.
Sara’s solution was a visual calendar, which helped her daughter easily see what she could expect each day. Would mom be extra tired from chemo? Or would it be a “good day,” closer to the end of the cycle? The calendar also had low-key activities the two could do together. Sara’s daughter picked out the activities and chose the day they’d do them, giving the pair something to look forward to.
Since Sara’s diagnosis in 2017, she has continued to build her company to help with a number of difficult life circumstances. She now has book and calendar sets for everyday use in addition to special sets for kids facing parental divorce, their own pediatric cancer diagnosis, or the diagnosis of a parent or sibling. Through her nonprofit organization, Resilience Campaign, Sara is seeking funding to provide these resources to pediatric cancer patients and their siblings.
Using these books and calendars, Sara found a way to take things that are incredibly complicated and make them simple and easy to understand.
“These tools brought both of us security and peace,” Sara says. “Every day, my daughter could check the calendar to see – where in the chemo cycle is mom? When will she start to feel better? What activity can I choose for us to do together? This calendar was a gift. It was the gift of being able to connect with my child, even when I was exhausted.”
Through her experience with cancer, Sara learned a lesson so deeply that it has become a core part of who she is. And that lesson is this: Making life more simple makes space for the things that really matter.
It makes space so your brain isn’t preoccupied with keeping track of everything under the sun, and for connection with the people, we love.
We will be giving away a children’s book and calendar kit of your choice to one lucky winner.
Choose one or more ways to enter:
- Sign up for email notifications at ChildLifeMommy.com and leave a comment below.
- Facebook: Follow Child Life Mommy and tag two friends.
- Facebook: Follow Mighty + Bright Co and leave a comment.
- Instagram: Follow @ChildLifeMommy and @MightyandBrightCo tag two friends in the post.
- Twitter: Follow, Like, and RT the post to @ChildLifeMommy
Good luck, the winner will be chosen by 9/4/21. Open to U.S. residents.
As children return to school in the fall they may be experiencing more than just the first day of school jitters. Social isolation, institutional strain, and economic hardship have contributed to increased mental health challenges among children and adolescents. After a year of changing school environments and routines, isolation, loss, and uncertainty children will require time and space to recover and relearn to trust not only in the systems and adults who care for them but also in themselves. Children will need opportunities that build confidence and self-esteem lost to a year of unprecedented challenges that have left them unsure of their own light that shines from within.
Spirituality for Kids International Inc. (SFK) is an educational non-profit that builds social-emotional learning (SEL). SEL content and programs equip children with the tools to adapt, grow and learn the life skills needed to face adversity and challenges. After a year like no other children need opportunities to explore interests, identify strengths, and tap into the support that will help them to feel safe again. Through evidenced and asset-based curriculum, videos, and hands-on activities, SFK teaches children viable ways to tap into their inner strengths and see their true potential. Using a unique and immersive learning experience, SFK strives to support children and those who care for them in home, school, and community settings by strengthening relationships, developing self-awareness, and teaching tools for responsible decision making.
Over the past two years, I have had the opportunity to work with the team at SFK reviewing materials and videos that help children trust in themselves, learn to recognize their own gifts, and identify helpers who encourage children to become all they can be. I have found them to be innovative thinkers and always open to fresh ideas. Their new short-form video series is no exception. SFK wants to know what parents, caregivers, and professionals think about their videos and accompanying materials. They are requesting you watch the following videos and answer a short survey in hopes to acquire data that will help the organization to know if they are hitting their mark
This is an inspiring small story about big feelings and a loss of a loved one. And how to find the power within to overcome, stay true to yourself, and find inspiration.
The concepts in this lesson covered in the video and activities are:
- Loss of a loved one
- Managing big feelings
- The Light is always present
- What others say or do is not in our control
- Being my true self