Children’s Cancer Network:  Bringing H.O.PE. to Arizona Schools

WHAT

Honoring our Peers Every Day, or H.O.P.E., teaches school children how to honor their peers through the lens of childhood cancer. Facts about the realities of cancer are taught along with simple, everyday strategies that help transition the survivors and siblings back into the classroom.

Developed in 2016 and tied to the Common Core, Science, and Counseling standards, the program answers many questions about cancer which breaks down barriers so that youth can talk openly with each other about this deadly disease.

HOW

The 55-minute, interactive, age appropriate presentation (K-1, 2-3, 4-6 and 7-12) can be done assembly or classroom style; H.O.P.E. educates youth about childhood cancer while empowering them to make a difference for childhood cancer survivors and all classmates.

The program has three components – education, compassion and action – that together build understanding and lifelong skills of respect and acceptance for all people in school and the community.

The H.O.P.E. team also offers strategies for how youth can become a H.O.P.E. ambassador at their school. In addition, there an important connection between H.O.P.E. and STEM education by inviting students to apply their knowledge of science in a real-world environment.

Resource boxes with pre and post activities are presented to each grade level that can be utilized at their discretion. Concrete examples of activities are supplied under each standard that are aligned with Common Core, Science and Counseling standards. In addition, 3 books related to cancer are provided to each school for their library as well as a Ways to H.O.P.E. poster to display at their school.

WHEN AND WHERE

The H.O.P.E. program takes to the road every weekday during the school year and summer school!

WHY

Cancer – especially childhood cancer – is a scary subject.

Unfortunately, the number of children diagnosed with cancer continues to grow. Nationwide, more than 16,000 children from birth to age 19 are diagnosed with cancer, and cure rates for some pediatric cancers remain below 50 percent. Cancer kills more children than AIDS, asthma, diabetes, cystic fibrosis and congenital anomalies combined, yet pediatric cancer continues to be one of the most overlooked and underfunded categories of all cancer research.

Along with the diagnosis are myths associated with the disease. For example, upon returning to school after months of treatment for leukemia, one child was barraged with questions: “Is your cancer gone?” “Will your hair grow back?” “Can I catch the disease?”

The H.O.P.E. program helps address these and many other issues in an age-appropriate, interactive manner, without focusing on a specific child.

WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT H.O.P.E.

Since the program’s inception, H.O.P.E. program volunteers have reached 3000 students at 13 Arizona schools. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

“I still get goosebumps when I read the letters from kids after your H.O.P.E. visit. I will never forget how Ben’s attitude changed from quiet apprehension to joy at the thought of returning to school.~~Mom of a childhood cancer survivor, Lake Havasu City

“Great work. I thought that it went very well and the students were very engaged.”~~Dr. Christopher Thuman, Principal, Ingleside Middle, Scottsdale Unified School District

The past H.O.P.E. presentation for Sophia’s siblings was wonderful!  Upon leaving the school, the principal said that a student went up to her and said “I learned so much today, I will do my best to be nice to people in my school”.  I just love attending the different schools and observing the kiddos different interactions with their fellow classmates.  H.O.P.E.’s mission is such a simple concept, yet it seems to be practiced so rarely, mutual respect and kindness are always in style!  When these values are presented as a visual and interactive experience for the school aged student, they are something that is easy to understand and incorporate into their daily lives.  ~~Jodi Rall Teacher Specialist at Banner Thunderbird

Your program is so comprehensive and interactive that it grasps the audience’s attention and heart strings. School administrators are constantly amazed by how smoothly the presentation flows with all aspects of effective classroom management embedded into learning incorporating all types of learning styles. Students not only walk away with knowledge on what cancer is and how it affects their peers but also a sense of empowerment on how they can be a positive change in other’s lives. ~~Ashely Brock, Education Specialist at Banner Diamond’s in Tucson

 

WHO

H.O.P.E. was developed by current and former educators, child life specialists, nurse practitioners, and families of cancer survivors for Children’s Cancer Network. The program is generously underwritten by Fiesta Bowl Charities and transportation is provided by Valley Toyota Dealers Association.

Children’s Cancer Network is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to assisting Arizona families dealing with childhood cancer. Established in 2004, the organization lends financial support to families, promotes patient and family education about cancer-related issues, and sponsors activities that build the self-esteem of childhood cancer patients and their siblings. The idea is to help families deal with stressful and uncertain times that begin with the initial diagnosis and often continue for years after that.

Fiesta Bowl Charities has had the fortunate opportunity to serve thousands of charities across Arizona since its inception in 1971. From football field donations to playground builds, food distribution and player outreach, volunteerism and Fiesta Bowl Wishes for Teachers, the organization has helped numerous non-profit organizations in need. During the 2016-17 season, Fiesta Bowl Charities reached a monumental goal, granting more than $2 million to 75 charities and providing 100 Arizona teachers with a $5,000 wish grant to put back into their classrooms.

Valley Toyota Dealers Association was founded in 1989 and represents all 10 Toyota dealers in metropolitan Phoenix, including AutoNation Toyota Tempe, Avondale Toyota, Bell Road Toyota, Big Two Toyota of Chandler, Camelback Toyota, Earnhardt Toyota/Scion, Larry H. Miller Toyota Peoria, Right Toyota, Riverview Toyota and Toyota of Surprise.

INFO

For more information about the H.O.P.E. program or to schedule a school visit, contact Sharon Wozny, program coordinator, at (480) 398-1564 (o), (480) 703-6204 (m) or via email at sharon.wozny@childrenscancernetwork.org .