Tuesday, November 4, 2014

When Kids Have To Be Brave: Help from The Hero Project

I first introduced readers to Capes For Kids when I celebrated the importance of children caring about other children. My post, Youth Making a Difference: Capes for Kids told the story of a Livonia, Michigan kindergarten class raising money for an organization that gave superhero style capes to hospitalized kids.

What a great caper! Who's idea was this? I spoke with Courtney Kibble, program director for The Hero Project. She explained that the project began in 2012 when a group of women were brought together to create a fundraising body in support of the Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St. Vincent
Spirit of Caring.org

Located in Indianapolis, Indiana, the hospital opened in 2003 to provide a full range of pediatric services in a setting that is "kid-sized and child friendly." When a hospital is focused on the holistic wellbeing of a child--physical, emotional, and spiritual--it must view the world through young eyes to be effective.
"We created everything from the ground up, with the support of the St.Vincent Foundation. Kids grow up on superheroes; their excitement in mimicking them is empowering. Our goal was for every child who spends the night at the hospital to receive a cape. We have achieved that goal, and our group and vision keeps expanding by leaps and bounds!"  Courtney Kibble
CNN reporter, Henry Hanks, explored this devotion to superheroes and quoted one child:
"They have super powers, strength, and they are brave. They always do the right things. They battle against evil. Superheroes give you strength!"
  • Super powers
  • Strength
  • Bravery
  • Battling evil
  • Doing the right thing

...That's a near-perfect list of qualities for fighting illness.

The power of a cape.

Courtney explained that one of the first tasks after admission is giving a free cape to the child. "We partner with the hospital's Child Life Specialists, who work with the patients, daily."
The goal of a Child Life Specialist is to "minimize stress and anxiety through play and other resources to promote wellness; expression of feelings; and understanding of the the health care experience." 
Keeping the serious side of medicine out of the room allows positive energy to flow unimpeded. And even when 'invasive and painful procedures' must be performed, children are 'educated, prepared, and distracted.' There are no frightening or traumatic surprises.

Courtney Kibble has observed the power of a cape.
"It truly is remarkable. The capes are incredibly comfortable and are like security blankets. They have given children the strength to get through getting an IV, having a CAT scan, and to even get out of bed and walk down the hall. 
"The one story I will never forget is one of our early patients who received a cape. He loved his cape so much that he asked to be buried in it.  Sadly, he was, but it truly touched my heart to know how important it became to him."

Courtney is a mom, and experienced the fear and stress when one's child requires serious care. "My son was hospitalized several times as a toddler and young boy and I know just how hard it can be to entertain a child, let alone make him comfortable and happy.  If our capes make even one child smile a day, it is completely worth all we do!"

How are capes created?

A Gallery of Caped Creations
Providing every child with a handcrafted cape takes time and talent. Courtney explained that capes for patients are created by volunteer groups across Indiana and beyond.  "We have had corporate groups, girl scout troops, high school key clubs, science classes, a college marching band, college fashion design classes and even a women’s prison participate in making capes! The capes are mostly the no-sew variety, but we provide instructions for sewn and non-sewn capes on our website."

Why not turn all children into Superheroes?

The enthusiastic reception to Capes For Kids made the next step a natural fit to expand fundraising. "We created a store on our website where anyone may purchase SuperHero gear: capes, masks, cuffs, and tutus. Customization is available, too. All items are professionally made by a skilled seamstress in Martinsville, Indiana, and all proceeds go to the Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital. The orders come from all over and we have even had inquiries about starting a Hero Project in other states to support other children’s hospitals."

The Hero Project

The SuperHero Cape as a Children's Condolence Gift:

Helping a child be brave 

Visiting with Courtney, the Condolence Coach suddenly realized that the empowering benefits of wearing a cape can extend to a grieving child. We have discussed condolence gifts in other posts; here is a new option! 

Thanks to The Hero Project's Create A Cape page, creating a Super Hero Cape is easy for sewers and non-sewers. And if you enjoy the project, consider making an extra cape for The Hero Project.

Sewing Method: How to sew a Super-Hero Cape

Non-Sewing Method: How to make a no-sew super hero cape

Presenting your Super Hero gift to a child should be done in a simple way:

  • Arrange with a parent to leave it in their bedroom, with a note, "For you, love ___"
  • Wrap it in a box or bag and hand it to them, saying, "this might be fun."
  • Send it as a package through the mail, with a little note, "Does this fit you?"

Other Condolence Gift Ideas:

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