enCourage Kids Foundation empowers kids facing health challenges to lead their most awesome lives through cost-free family outings and uplifting hospital programs.
Our programs reach kids facing a variety of health issues – from those receiving chemo treatments in a clinic to those who live with a chronic illness that may not be visible. What they all have in common is that they deserve the same opportunities to laugh, to play, and to have fun – whether they are being treated in the hospital or living with their struggles at home.
The programs that have made us so successful over the past 30 years are the ones that were developed – and grown – locally in the tri-state area, including Escapes, Hospital Happenings, Tablets, and perhaps the most impactful – our Pediatric Hospital Support Program.
Why is enCourage Kids needed in the hospitals?
Most of the programs we bring to our partners are ones that would not be covered by the hospital budget.
“We wouldn’t have a lot of our programs if it wasn’t for enCourage Kids,” says AnnMarie DiFrancesca, Director of Child Life and Creative Therapies Program at Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York. “They make our jobs easier when we have great environments to provide care and great opportunities for kids to engage and be normal kids.”
The hospital can be a very cold and impersonal setting, so by focusing on improving the environment also helps in the healing process.
According to Dr. Joseph J. Abularrage, Chairman of the Pediatrics Department at New York Hospital in Queens, “the literature is clear to show that if you calm patients down, their time in the hospital is actually compressed and they can get out earlier. Every day there are children here who are calmer and who are in a better place because of enCourage Kids.” He continues, “I would say from both the humanities standpoint and the medical standpoint, it’s just been terrific what enCourage Kids has done for us.”
Why is enCourage Kids important for families?
“When you have a sick child, the whole family is affected,” says Dr. Jennifer Pearce of the Melodies Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders. “And the programs enCourage Kids bring to us allow a lot of laughter, a lot of love, a lot of forgetting what’s going on. For the parents, for the kids, and for the siblings, it’s a wonderful experience.”
For kids with health issues, care doesn’t end in the hospital, so we create experiences for the whole family to enjoy together, which also allow for them to bond with other families.
“We are all together in this fight, no matter what your child is sick with. Just being together, meeting new people, having a great time, watching our kids smile – I think that’s the best part,” shares Rainbow Doemel, enCourage parent and staff member.