Children & Youth,
Children & Youth Services,
Patient & Family Support,
Chai Lifeline’s guiding principles are
- That seriously ill children need and deserve as happy and normal a childhood as possible;
- That illness affects each member of the family;
- That the well-being of an ill child is impacted by the well-being of his or her family;
- That pediatric illness can have a devastating financial effect on families.
With this in mind, Chai Lifeline strives to
- Find ways to bring joy to the lives of our young patients and their families through creative, innovative, and effective family-focused programs, activities, and services;
- Engender hope and optimism in children, families, and communities;
- Educate and involve communities in caring for ill children and their families;
- Provide unparalleled support throughout the child’s illness, recovery and beyond;
- Build communities among children and families living with illness or loss that allow them to engage, strengthen, and encourage one another;
- Offer all services free of charge to ensure that every family has access to the programs it needs.
Results: In 2010:
1. We built a new, state-of-the-art medical center at the Camp Simcha/Camp Simcha Special campus, the first step in doubling the capacity of the camps.
2. Hundreds of children received a "booster shot" of confidence, friendship, and support at Friends 'n Fun weekends across North America.
3. We opened after-school programs for children living with illness or loss in their homes in three additional cities.
4. Over 18,100 hospital visits helped children laugh through their pain and gave crucial emotional support to parents.
Target demographics: Children, teens, and young adults with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses, disabilities, and chronic disease.
Direct beneficiaries per year: 4,300 children and their families
Geographic areas served: North America, Europe, Israel
Programs: Chai Lifeline understands that a child’s illness creates a tear in the fabric that holds families together. Our network of 24 programs and services strengthen the family unit, giving children and parents the tools to remain cohesive and hopeful from the moment of diagnosis. Programs are divided into four major categories: camping’ concrete living services; counseling and support; recreation and the arts. All programs are free of charge.
Chai Lifeline’s flagship programs are its two camps for seriously ill children and teens, Camp Simcha and Camp Simcha Special. These camps are place where pain and illness vanish, and where children are reminded every day that anything is possible. The personalized attention and genuine regard of compassionate, trained staff are potent medicine for campers who are often socially isolated as a result of illness. Deep friendships and camaraderie developed through bunk living and everyday triumphs enhance resilience, raise confidence, and give 450 children and teens the will to keep fighting the devastating social and emotional impact of living with illness.
Concrete living services enable families to maintain important routines and provide unparalleled support during medical crises. Professional case managers/patient navigators provide immediate emotional support, medical referrals, information and advocacy. Hot meals and hospital visits from volunteers lift spirits as they nourish bodies. Insurance advocacy guides parents through the maze of regulations and reimbursements. Educational support, including tutoring, loans of laptop computers, and webcam connections between child and classroom, enables children who can’t be in school to remain current in the classwork.
Chai Lifeline offers free counseling to ill children and their immediate families. Parents have found information and friendship through ChaiLine therapist-facilitated telephone support groups and interactive telephone sessions with medical and mental health experts. Every year, hundreds of families attend retreats for families coping with life-threatening illness, chronic disease and disability, or bereavement.
Recreational activities during the year facilitate friendships and peer support. Regional outings give families a chance to reconnect, exchange information, and absorb new ideas for coping with the unique challenges of pediatric illness. Children’s activities enable ill children and their siblings to befriend the only people whom they feel truly understand them: others in their situation. Creative arts offer an avenue for expression and friendship.