There have always been nonprofits and charities focused on providing much-needed care, healing, and hospitalization for free to children with life-threatening illnesses and persistent illnesses – and parents with less financial resources. It is a gift and a blessing.
But since 2020 and the creation of a chapter in the greater Philadelphia area, the national nonprofit A Kid Again has strived not only to provide free services to young people with life-threatening illnesses and their families throughout the year, but also to bring a childlike sense of adventure, literally and figuratively, to life . By providing everything from home adventures, virtual adventures, and drive-thru adventures to its families, A Kid Again helps heal its patients and their families internally and externally from body to mind.
After A Kid Again celebrated its one-year anniversary with a virtual event this month, A Kid Again will be able to offer personal “adventures” for children and their families from mid-June after the COVID-19 restrictions have been eased. So far this has meant concerts by DJ Logic, picnics at the Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse, and rides and slides in Dorney Park.
Rachel Lippoff, Executive Director of A Kid Again for Greater Philadelphia, has been at the forefront of both the healing aspects of the program and entertainment since the beginning of the performance during the COVID quarantine.
“A Kid Again was founded in Ohio 26 years ago and the Greater Philadelphia Chapter opened in late 2019,” said Lipoff. “And like the rest of our chapters across the country, we offer hope, happiness, and healing to children in life-threatening conditions and their families. We do this by offering a plethora of different ‘adventures’ and supporting the community. “
Whether a special Christmas or a home adventure for a sick child; It is vital to the healing process and general well-being that children struggling with illness provide their siblings and parents with consistent and regular fun opportunities to look forward to. “These adventures, whether at home or across the region, mean so much to them,” added Lipoff.
Defining the types of life-threatening illnesses children go through to put them on A Kid Again’s radar, Lipoff says that her organization is “state-independent,” with whatever condition a doctor considers life-threatening to be her criterion and these families can participate in as many free and varied programs as they like. “Our registration process is straightforward, with basic questions asking families about a child’s diagnosis, doctor and hospital information,” said Lipoff.
“And families connect with us and our programs by contacting social workers, family professionals and children’s hospitals in the area. We work closely with CHoP in Philadelphia, whose director of social work is on our advisory board, and with other hospitals in the area. In addition, we often get customers through family recommendations. Just yesterday I spoke to one of our mothers who wanted to share our information with other support groups and other medical groups. “
Completely free for A Kid Again families (“We never charge anything,” Lipoff insists), the nonprofit is able to help through the generosity of the individuals, companies and foundations that fund its mission and programs, as well as three to three fundraisers four times a year. “Just telling our stories is enough for donors to want to know more,” says Lipoff. “What makes us unique is that we not only have people who want to sponsor ‘adventures’, but also volunteer on ‘adventures’ and meet the families for whom they are funding.”
A Kid Again’s “adventures” not only bring joy to families and patients, but also increase a sense of well-being and wholeness for children, who are often discouraged by life-threatening illnesses. June so far has included indoor concert adventures and outdoor adventures (“Due to COVID and our more medically fragile children, we had to make sure we have outdoor events for parents who are still uncomfortable”). Next month there will be picnic afternoons in the park and of course the famous “Adventures in a Box” sent straight to your home. In August, the boxes will contain the ability to tie with T-shirts and any dye material. “We just send people home fun and safe things – everything from scavenger hunts, planting spots with shovels and other garden tools. We’re going to have Halloween and Thanksgiving adventures this fall and winter as well, ”said Lipoff.
A Kid Again has over 55,500 families nationwide participating in its programs. The Greater Philadelphia Chapter in Lipoff is currently trying to take in as many families and children with life-threatening illnesses as possible and offer them health and healing opportunities for mind, body and spirit. “Our chapter of A Kid Again wants to enroll as many volunteers as possible and bring each of them the hope, happiness, and healing we can through our adventures.”
To learn more, visit www.akidagain.org.