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Camp Simcha Works Its Magic for 440 Campers

Camp Simcha was turned into a Magic Kingdom this summer.

Camp Simcha was turned into a Magic Kingdom this summer.

It’s always enchanting to watch the buses pull in to Camp Simcha. Four times a summer, children alight into the waiting arms of counselors, go through a purple arch and emerge into a world where illness recedes and fun awaits. read full story

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“Just Keep Trying” Adaptive Athlete Tells Camp Simcha Special Girls

Adaptive athlete Lindsay Hilton had a clear message for the girls of Camp Simcha Special: "Just try."

Adaptive athlete Lindsay Hilton had a clear message for the girls of Camp Simcha Special: “Just try.”

Lindsay Hilton was born without lower limbs on her legs or arms, but that hasn’t stopped her from becoming a CrossFit sensation, company spokesperson, and award-winning adaptive athlete. This summer, she added motivational speaker to her long list of accomplishments when she broke numerous barriers for the girls of Camp Simcha Special. read full story

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Camp Simcha Girls Repeat the March of Hope

Camp Simcha's March of Hope gave 400 campers and staff a chance to celebrate life and survivorship.

Camp Simcha’s March of Hope gave 400 campers and staff a chance to celebrate life and survivorship.

A new generation of girls fighting cancer marched over the Brooklyn Bridge in a celebration of life, joy, and hope.

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Paws of Love Helps Children Emerge From Their Shells

Interacting with pets has physical and emotional benefits for children with illnesses.

Interacting with pets has physical and emotional benefits for children with illnesses.*
*Photo used for illustrative purposes only.

In the spring of 2016, Eli was diagnosed with a serious chronic disorder. As the realities of his new life, one where he would be more restricted in his movement, sunk in, he became more withdrawn. Concerned, they confided their worries to their Chai Lifeline West Coast case manager. read full story

Speaking To Your Children About the Midwood Fire

7 Ways to Help Children Traumatized by the Midwood Fire

Note: The professionals at Project CHAI, Chai Lifeline’s crisis intervention and bereavement division are available to answer questions and provide personalized assistance to parents, educators, and community leaders following this weekend’s tragic fire in Midwood, Brooklyn. Please call 855-3-CRISIS or email CRISIS@CHAILIFELINE.ORG. Rabbi Sruli Fried, MSW, has prepared this video presentation: Speaking To Your Children About the Midwood Fire

The Jewish community of Midwood, Brooklyn, one of New York’s five boroughs and home to one of the largest Jewish communities outside Israel, was rocked by the devastating fire that killed seven siblings, ages 5 to 16, and left a mother and surviving daughter in critical condition.

Within minutes after the Sabbath ended, Chai Lifeline’s  crisis hotline lit up with phone calls from concerned parents who needed assistance talking to their children about the tragedy. Project CHAI’S professionals, all therapists with training and experience in responding to traumatic situations, offer the following suggestions for parents, educators, and community leaders:
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  • Be attentive to your child’s behaviors that may signal distress. An event like the recent fire can trigger reactions in the immediate aftermath and for the next several weeks.  These behaviors are normal after a traumatic event, and are the child’s way of coping with the trauma. Some children will be able to verbalize their fears right away. Others may experience nightmares, difficulty falling asleep, a reluctance to separate from parents, or a terror of ordinary fire, among other responses.

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  • Be aware of your own reactions to the event. Children work out how to react to a situation by watching the significant adults around them, particularly parents and teachers. Try, if at all possible, to behave in a calm and controlled manner.

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  • Be prepared to speak about the event with your child. Your child may want to speak about the event at great length, or may prefer not to talk about it at all.  Feel free to ask questions, but do not force your child to speak if he or she does not want to. If the child wants to talk about feelings, be supportive and encouraging. Show your understanding and acceptance of these feelings by explaining that feelings such as fear, anger and guilt are all normal reactions to such an “abnormal” event.

 

  •  Encourage alternatives to talkingDrawing, writing, drama and music are all wonderful creative outlets that can be introduced to help children share their experiences.

 

  • Try to maintain a normal routine, and provide children with reassuring and realistic messages about their safety. Talk about what steps you have implemented in the home to ensure safety, and to prevent fires in the future. This will strengthen the children’s sense of safety and control.

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  • The single most important resource for children after exposure is the network of adults in their lives. Most children will recover from exposure to trauma with the aid of those close to them, including parents and teachers.

 

  • Don’t hesitate to call a professional if your child’s behavior or feelings seem extreme or if they persist after a month. The Project CHAI hotline, 855-3-CRISIS, is staffed by therapists who are trained in helping families cope with the aftermath of traumatic events. Emails to CRISIS@CHAILIFELINE.ORG receive immediate responses.

 

 

 

Baltimore Raven’s Jacoby Jones Throws a Lifeline to Cancer Patient

Baltimore Raven’s Jacoby Jones Throws a Lifeline to Cancer Patient

Football became too dangerous for Coby when he was diagnosed with cancer. Rather than let his football dreams die when he was told that he would have to stop playing in the league he loved, volunteers from Chai Lifeline, the international charity dedicated to helping sick children and their families, fulfilled his greatest dreams: playing with Baltimore Raven’s wide receiver Jacoby Jones.
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Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Jacoby Jones and cancer patient Coby get ready to toss the football at a game organized by volunteers for Chai Lifeline.

Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Jacoby Jones and cancer patient Coby get ready to toss the football at a game organized by volunteers for Chai Lifeline.


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Jacoby and Coby played a competitive game with some of Coby’s best friends and Chai Lifeline volunteers. Coby wore his JONES jersey, and Jacoby Jones wore his custom-made (JA)COBY jersey.
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There’s no question that Jacoby Jones is a hero on and off the football field. But there’s no word on who won the football skirmish, which was played at Carroll Indoor Sports Center in Westminster, MD.

Tears of Joy As Adam Walks Over the Finish Line

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Surrounded by counselors and friends, Adam Wolf crosses the Miami Marathon finish line.

Surrounded by counselors and friends, Adam Wolf crosses the Miami Marathon finish line.


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Adam Wolf was born prematurely. At birth he suffered a brain hemorrhage. His parents were told he would never hold his head up, talk, or walk.
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That was 16 years ago.

In January, as a member of Team Lifeline, Adam crossed the finish line of the Miami Half Marathon on his own two feet. Surrounded by counselors from Camp Simcha & Camp Simcha Special, his mother, Ali, and lots of well-wishers, Adam traded his wheelchair for a walker and walked the last 1.1 miles unaided.

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Team Lifeline is one of Chai Lifeline’s endurance-training programs. Runners, walkers, and cyclists raise money for the organization while training for a marathon, half-marathon or to cycle in America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride. The Team Lifeline presence at this year’s Miami Marathon and Half-Marathon was over 450 strong.
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The program attracts dozens of parents whose children have been helped by the organization. It is a way that they can say “Thank you” for the strength, confidence, and self-esteem that Chai Lifeline gives to kids who are isolated by illness. “Kids in wheelchairs don’t have a lot of play dates,” Ms. Wolf said. Camp Simcha Special gives the teen summers filled with friendship and experiences and a growing group of friends with whom he’s in contact all year long. 
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The crowd roared as Adam neared the finish line. Other runners slowed their gait, sacrificing their own times, to join the growing crowd singing and chanting “Adam! Adam!” His mother’s eyes filled with tears as she realized that her son, the boy who wasn’t supposed to walk, was about to go through the finish gate.

“What Team Lifeline and Chai Lifeline have given us is beyond words. For Adam to have accomplished such a huge goal is more significant than the medal he received. He now knows he can set high goals and achieve the impossible. All he needed is a little inspiration,” Ali concluded.

Be a Kid Again Invites Adults to Experience Childhood Fun

What happens when you drag a bed around New York City and encourage people to jump on it?
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Filmmaker and Camp Simcha division head Meir Kalmanson knows. People feel likes again. Kalmanson and his crew invited people to jump on a bed to help them remember that sick children miss out on more than just being able to jump on beds. The video, released today, has already tallied thousands of views on YouTube, and Kalmanson (and Chai Lifeline) hope it will spread awareness of the organization worldwide.
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Watch the video here: Be a Kid Again
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