Last week I was privileged to have been invited to the official South African Launch of a program for children with cancer called Kids Kicking Cancer!
Kids Kicking Cancer is an initiative that was started in America in 1999 by
Founding Director, Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg (Rabbi G), and began providing classes in several public hospitals in South Africa earlier this year.
Last Tuesday was the Official Johannesburg launch and Wednesday was the Official Cape Town launch, which I was privileged to attend, and hear firsthand about what the program offers as well as meet Rabbi G, Professor Alan Davidson, Head of Paediatric Haematology and Oncology at Red Cross Children’s Hospital, Chairperson Dr Richard Friedland, and other Board Members; the two wonderful people working with our little fighters, Ilze van der Merwe in Cape Town and Moses Sebopa in Johannesburg, and of course, our Little Heroes from Cape Town; Hayden, Monalisa and Ferdi.
We think this is a FANTASTIC program that will benefit our Little Fighters greatly, and we encourage all parents of Children with Cancer to get their little fighters registered on the program.
Kids Kicking Cancer’s Heroes Circle program provides therapeutic martial arts classes and hospital visits for children and teens. Weekly classes at hospitals, clinics, and even the children’s homes, teach traditional karate moves along with the mind-body techniques of meditation, breathing, relaxation, and visualisation to dramatically lower pain levels.
Kids Kicking Cancer’s mission is To ease the pain of very sick children while empowering them to heal physically, spiritually and emotionally.
Using martial arts therapy, Kids Kicking Cancer teaches seriously ill children & their siblings to:
- Regain a sense of control over the chaos of their lives.
- Become empowered partners in their own healing.
- Push away the messages of pain, fear, and anger.
- Provide inspiration and light to others facing life-challenges.
- Teach other children, and even adults, how to take control.
- See themselves as victors, not victims.
Classes are facilitated by specially trained black belt martial artists. Kids feel empowered to become partners in their own healing, pushing away the pain and regaining a sense of control. Our little heroes are inspirational children, filled with a sense of power, peace, and purpose.
To ensure the programme incorporates family members, siblings are also welcome to join.
All services provided by the organisation as well as the Karate Gi (uniforms) distributed to children on the programme are 100% free of charge.
A “pilot program” has been running for the past 6 months at
- Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, Cape Town
- Tygerberg Hospital, Cape Town
- Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital (Joburg General)
- Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, Johannesburg (Soweto)
The programs will now go ahead full-steam in both Johannesburg and Cape Town and will soon be spreading to other provinces.
“One of the things that the children lose is control when they are in a hospital. The doctors and nurses walk in and tell them to do this and don’t do this and they feel they no longer have control.
What we are doing in Kids Kicking Cancer, we are giving them that power to say you are in control; you are powerful. When they see a black belt they see you as a hero and we say you are the hero.”
— Moses Sebopa, Gauteng Program Coordinator
Pain is not just about necrotic or dying tissue. Brain imaging tells us that one’s sense of fear, despair and anger affect the physiology of that pain. Allowing these children to know that they are teaching the world, lessens their pain of disease and procedures. It also creates a motivating force for healing.
The greatest threat to public health is ambivalence. Most people are well aware that stress, overeating, smoking etc. are bad for their health. The simple breathing techniques that we teach are great tools in reducing stress and controlling negative behaviors. However, even when we have moments of dedication to take control of our lives, it is more common than not that we become ambivalent and quickly lose interest in those goals.
The Heroes Circle creates a constant motivation and inspiration. When you click this site you are telling the children, in real-time, that they have a purpose in their lives. In front of our patients, the numbers keep going up. At the same time, soon to be millions of people will be inspired to “take that breath” and take control of their lives in a healthy manner.
Black Belt Ceremony
Before terminally-ill children pass away, a special ceremony is held with family and friends, wherein the children are presented with their black belt. Some ceremonies are attended by hundreds of people while others are held in more intimate settings for immediate family only.
“When we give children this black belt, we embroider the child’s name on one side and the words ‘master teacher’ on the other, because they really are teaching the world” – Rabbi G.
Talk to your children and become a member of the Heroes Circle, for their sake and for yours!