One of the quandaries that Chai Lifeline faces annually is how to give the love, acceptance, and confidence that children find at Chai Lifeline throughout the year to kids during the summer months. Last year, Chai Lifeline Southeast, the regional branch of the international children’s health support organization, created the ultimate fix for them: Summer Dayz.
Summer Day, is six weeks of pure fun for sick children and their siblings ages 5-12. Four days a week, children enjoyed sports, arts & crafts, creative drama and music, and guest-led programs like yoga, special crafts, and even self-defense. Additionally, the group went on special trips weekly. Excursions included bowling and an excursion to the Dezer Auto Collection to a day at the Miami Children’s Museum, and an expedition to ISky for a lesson in indoor sky diving.
“Summer Dayz was a dream that took off thanks to a dedicated family whose nephew, a Chai Lifeline client, couldn’t go to camp,” said Ellen Weiss, MSW, Chai Lifeline’s regional director. “They knew he would be alone and isolated during the summer. Summer Dayz gave him – along with ?? other children – the chance to make friends with others in the same situation.”
One of the program’s goals was to bring the warmth and inclusion for which Chai Lifeline is renowned to Summer Dayz. The program clearly did all that, and more, according to grateful parents. Every day, Summer Dayz’s social media channels were filled with comments like,
“Best summer ever. My kids loved every day.”
Thank you for allowing my daughter to join after I realized she wasn’t having fun at camp. Thank you also for welcoming my son when his therapy schedule allowed. They both had an awesome time.”
“I am in tears. My kids had the most amazing summer. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the love you and the counselors gave our children. We feel so blessed.”
“We always say that we are available for our families 365 days a year. Summer Dayz is one way we keep that promise,” Mrs. Weiss added.
An added benefit was the friendship that developed among the mothers, all women struggling to raise children in difficult situations. They bonded over a WhatsApp group that sent daily photos of the children’s activities – and smiles. Indeed, when one suggested a reunion, the rest responded quickly and enthusiastically. “Who’s it for?” one asked, probably only slightly tongue-in-cheek? “The kids or us?”