West Coast Kids Cancer Foundation

West Coast Kids Cancer Foundation
West Coast Kids Cancer Foundation
  • Contest: 2021 Northwestern Excellence in Camp Programming - Photo Submission
  • Name of Entry: The Power of Connection | WCK Hangouts
  • Contact Name: Kelsey Merritt
  • Contact Phone: 604 394 2029 Ext. 2
  • Email: kelsey.merritt@wckfoundation.ca
  • What Should the Voters Know?: In 2021, West Coast Kids Cancer Foundation (WCK) offered two different ways for kids with cancer to connect with others and feel less alone. This year we supported 84 kids with 989 hours of connection online and in person.

    HANGOUTS - Our virtual program “Hangouts” was facilitated all year long in a group and a unique one 1 volunteer to 1 child format. Our programming is inspired by the participants' hobbies, interests, and desire to try new things. Our fun-loving volunteers empower the participants to have a voice and help make each Hangout unique and fun. For example, a group of Teenagers now host their own weekly video game Hangout as a way to stay connected with each other while doing something they love. In Hangouts every participant received a “Fun Pack” with supplies and instructions for a variety of activities to do with their Hangout friends and volunteers. If they were not feeling well enough they could always do that activity at home with their siblings or parents.
    CITY CAMP - in partnership with our local school board, we were able to facilitate short in-person sessions in a COVID safe way. Each two-hour session was held outdoors with participants fully masked and with a Registered Nurse on site. This joy of being together again was indescribable. It was so important for WCK to provide an opportunity for in-person connection after months of isolation.

    One thing that we have learned over the last 18 months is what an incredible tool virtual programming offers to children who are in the hospital, stuck at home and unable to attend in-person events. For example, 10-year-old Jane was in remission when she first connected with volunteer Lisa in March of 2020. The pandemic had hit and Jane’s mom needed someone to help fill the time and provide some focused attention and fun to fill the long days. A year later Jane, sadly, was re-diagnosed with Leukemia. Thanks to her existing connection with Lisa, the two carried on with their virtual meetups whenever Jane felt well enough. Through lengthy hospital stays and ongoing chemo, Jane had a buddy to break the isolation and distract her from her difficult situation. Lisa took all of the Hangout photos and memories from the past year and turned them into a book for Jane to colour, write stories in, and enjoy. The power of connection does not end when the Zoom call does, it continues through each day and memory that is created. For WCK, virtual programs will continue to co-exist with our in-person programs long after COVID is gone to support the kids who need it most.

    The pictures below show the beautiful connection between Jane and Lisa, the joy of a participant receiving her “Fun Pack” and the joy kids felt being back together in person again.
    West Coast Kids Cancer Foundation creates much-needed and family-focused programs to support kids, siblings, parents, and caregivers at every stage of their experience with childhood cancer and blood disorders in B.C. We’re on a mission to provide daily, practical support for families along this journey. Every WCK program is created with direct input from families across BC experiencing childhood cancer and blood disorders so we can show up at every stage of their experience with the support that is most helpful. Through our programs, kids with cancer and blood disorders experience joy; Siblings know they matter; Parents and caregivers know they are not alone

    We are so grateful to COCA-I and Northwestern Mutual for helping WCK grow the Connections programs. With your support, we are able to send more resources, activities, and think outside the box to create long-lasting memories for our participants.
  • URL: https://www.wckfoundation.ca/connection