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What is Kids Kicking Cancer?
Back in 1981, Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg (known as Rabbi G), a black belt in the martial art Choi Kwang Do, lost his daughter at the age of 2 to Leukemia.
As a way of channeling his grief, Rabbi G began a role at Camp Sincha, a camp for children with cancer. Here, he learnt all the possible ways of helping children who are going through difficult treatments and transforming their mindset through martial arts.
Cut to 1999, inspired by the many therapeutic benefits of martial arts, Rabbi G founded the charitable program Kids Kicking Cancer. Their mission:
‘To ease the pain of very sick children while empowering them to heal physically, spiritually and emotionally’.
At these weekly classes around the world, children are provided with a sense of calm by being taught important mind-body skills such as breathing and meditation. Alongside this, they are taught traditional karate techniques in order to empower the minds, as a metaphor for them battling their disease.
Children as young as 3 are currently taking part in these lessons, which are free of charge for all paediatric patients and their siblings. Since its’ establishment, Kids Kicking Cancer has helped over 5,000 patients around the world, through one of the most difficult times imaginable.
As well as the classroom sessions, home visits and fundraising events, one of the most powerful elements of the nonprofit is that each child eventually becomes a teacher to others in this situation. A wonderful way to spread the message and provide purpose through hard times.
The ‘Black-Belt’ Program
The ‘Black-Belt’ program is a special model designed for children who have not been responding well to treatments, this end of life program provides ongoing meditation and care for the whole family.
The touching model culminates in the child receiving a black belt with the words ‘Master Teacher’ embroidered, a few days before he or she passes away.
What’s Included in the Classes?
- Martial arts classes and uniforms
- Support and coaching during clinical procedures and hospital stays
- Relaxation, meditation and empowerment training
- Transportation to and from classes and special events
- Home vists when required
- Annual Belting Ceremony
- Parent and sibling support programs
On top of all the work that goes into each class and home visit, their website also has 6 breathing excercises which can be listened to at any point, anywhere in the world.
Take for example ‘Body Scan’, a recorded session of a popular feature from a KKC class, where the children lie on the ground and learn to relax each muscle in their body. This can be listened to by anyone around the world, to help them find peace and calm during chaotic moments.
How Do Martial Arts Help?
During the classes, the children learn the important lesson of ‘breathing in the light and blowing out the darkness’, as a way of bringing them calm. But another important aspect of the lessons is finding strength, which comes from the martial art, karate.
Due to the impact of chemotherapy on bones, the children learn a non-contact form of karate where they’re taught important lessons:
Power is of utmost importance in karate and it is no different when dealing with an illness. These young children go through daily procedures which are scary and painful, but the feeling of empowerment that they learn from class, helps the pain and fear to go away.
An important aspect of martial arts is teaching discipline, respect and perseverance all of which bring about peace. The focus put on calmness, is an excellent way for the children to learn direction beyond pain, fear and anger.
Attending a weekly class and progressing themselves as individuals, gives the children a sense of purpose where they can see themselves as victors, not victims. The stability of the classroom enables them to regain a sense of control over the chaos around them.
Kids Kicking Cancer all started in Detroit, Michigan, however now is now present in 46 hospital locations, in 5 different countries.
Hospitals in the US include:
As well as international locations:
- South Africa
How to Donate?
Donations made to Kids Kicking Cancer go directly towards assisting the current program, as well as providing funding for the growing list of children in need of this support.
There are many more children suffering from diseases who can benefit from ‘breathing in the light and blowing out the darkness’ - techniques which are used to control pain, stress and anxiety. Your donations can make a difference in the lives of these children, helping to lower pain and give purpose.
If you would like to donate towards this amazing cause, you can head to their website where you can also find out lots more information about the organisation.