Cancer center to offer after-school program for kids

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Founded in 2003, the Nancy Marx Cancer Wellness Center has since expanded to cater to specific populations and now includes: four discussion groups, a dozen fitness classes, an annual offsite retreat, counseling, workshops on topics ranging from nutrition to environmental risk factors to employment after a diagnosis, and a family support program designed for children.

Robyn Jaslow, a cancer survivor and founder of Go With Courage, identified the need to service children with either a parent or sibling with cancer because of her own battle with cancer.

The JCC’s program, We’ve Got Your Back, was established in 2015 in partnership with Go With Courage with the goal of being “a respite for the caregiver, a release and a support system for the child, and a gift for the ill family member who could breathe knowing that their child was in the best hands at Sid Jacobson JCC,” said Jaslow.

We’ve Got Your Back helps children whose parent or sibling is undergoing treatment, with meals, after-school homework help, recreation, and other needs identified while also offering respite to the parents.

The We’ve Got Your Back After-School Program will launch on Oct. 9.

Also designed for children ages 5-12 whose parent or sibling has a cancer diagnosis, these participants will assemble at the JCC to share and learn life skills alongside peers who are also facing similar circumstances.

The program assists children with homework time, therapeutic playtime and dinner. With the use of play and art, children will acquire tools on how to cope with their family member’s cancer diagnosis.

Randy Hight, director of the Nancy Marx Cancer Wellness Center, saw a need to expand on the original program by “giving children a safe space to learn ways to cope with the changes in their family’s dynamic while having fun. The program will also give parents time to either care for themselves or their ailing child.”

Catherine P., one of of the participating family members lauded the program, which arranged for their son to attend summer camp while she underwent treatment for cancer.

“The support system required while undergoing treatment is complex, especially as parents,” she said. “While the best medical team is important, of equal importance is the support system required for your children. The We’ve Got Your Back program has been an essential spoke in our family plan. My son had an absolute blast this summer at camp thanks to the community of caring counselors, diverse activities and fun-themed days that kept him happy and busy so that I could focus on treatment.”

For more information about the program, visit sjjcc.org/cancerwellness or call 516-484-1545 ext. 213.

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