Young Adults (20-25 years)
The Next Chapter program was developed to help young adult pediatric cancer survivors access the resources they need to thrive.There is currently a lack of age-appropriate services that help this population tackle the unique challenges they face. As a result of their illness and treatments, these patients are entering adulthood with a wide range of burdens, including: lack of education or access to higher education, severe financial difficulties, isolation from their peers, chronic health conditions, cognitive and learning challenges, and adjustment difficulties These young adults are 21-35 years old and have participated in other Shining Stars Foundation programs and events. The Next Chapter program includes:
-Next Chapter Rocky Mountain Adventure: a three-day, four-night program for young adult pediatric cancer patients. The goal of the program is to provide participants with the tools and support to successfully transition into adulthood and thrive. The program provides adaptive skiing during the day and targeted group team-building activities and workshops during the evening.
-Next Chapter Mentorship Program: This program matches young adult pediatric cancer survivors with mentors who are dedicated to helping them become successful and independent individuals.
"This is such a unique experience, because it's therapeutic without being therapy. Participants are really transformed by their interactions with each other, and transformed by taking chances and pushing themselves."-Dr. Karen, Licensed School Psychologist & YARMA Volunteer
"This is bringing together people who experience many of the same things. We are finding that we are not alone - that there are other people who are going through the same everyday struggles." - Evan, Participant
Children Only (5 - 14 years)
A dynamic, week-long program for children ages 8-14 living with cancer or another life threatening disease. The program is designed to foster new relationships between participants, while giving them challenging and unique experiences. Activities include outdoor education, rafting, theater, therapeutic arts, hiking, challenge courses, rock climbing, horseback riding, paddle boarding, team building exercises, and more!
"Klaus had such a great time at your program. He is so confident, relaxed, and filled with this inner something that just shines out. This experience makes a special difference." - Parent
"Being at camp made us all forget completely about our illness. I know that being there has made me a different person for the better." - Participant
Recreation & Sports
Throughout the year, the Foundation hosts single day events which all Shining Stars and their families are invited to. Activities have included days at the zoo, professional sporting events, a holiday party, toy drive, concerts, theater productions, and more! Last year, over 60 different events were offered through this program. These events help to foster a support network among families, while also giving them a day out to have fun and enjoy one another away from the hospital.
The need for this program has grown quicker than any other service we offer. Nearly all events through this program fill up within hours, with waitlists as high as 75-100 people. This is a testament to the need the program is meeting.
"Being able to meet other families who have weathered the same storm is invaluable. Alex and his siblings now have new friendships with kids who know exactly what they have been through. It makes a huge difference in all of our lives." - Participant
Children ages 5 to 21
The program's purpose is to instill the value of philanthropy among youth in Colorado, while educating them about their peers who are living with a life threatening illness or disability. Through this program, we provide: awareness presentations to help youth understand the challenges children with a life threatening illness face and targeted volunteer opportunities to get youth involved in their community and enable them to make a difference.
"Thank you you for coming and speaking to us about Shining Stars. I now know that kids with cancer do not want to be treated like victims. I better understand what they have to go through. I see that they just want to be normal, and have friends like everybody else. Your presentation was very informational and inspirational!"
- Bixby, Local Student
Recreation & Sports
Children ages 5 to 21
The Winter Games is an eight-day adaptive snowboard and ski recreation program held every year for over 300 participants, including children, their medical team, instructors, and volunteers. Children living with cancer are taken to the slopes in Aspen and given everything they need to ride, including lift tickets, gear, lodging, meals, transportation, and one-on-one adaptive lessons. Kids also enjoy dance parties, music lessons, swimming, campfires, snowmobiling, yoga, crafts, and more. The week challenges them physically, in a way that they can succeed, showing them all they can accomplish despite their disease.
"Liam was disabled by his disease and had limited mobility and required a wheelchair. Over the past year, he has been doing physical therapy and is now walking and using the chair less and less. During the week he started out in a sit ski, and by the end of the week he was standing and skiing down the mountain! He is so proud of what he was able to do, and now he is ready to take on anything! It will be a time he will remember as a bright spot in his life that has had some very rough spots." - Parent of Participant
"When you have cancer your life becomes about surviving and not about living. But this week so many kids, including myself, got to feel alive for the first time in a long time." - Participant
Recreation & Sports
Youth/Adolescents only (14 - 19 years)
This five-day program is provided each summer for the children we serve and their entire family. For many families, due to the stress of their child's illness, this is the only family vacation they can look forward to every year. The program bonds families, while also introducing them to a much needed network of other families facing similar challenges. Activities include boating, hiking, rafting, climbing, horseback riding, fishing, biking, concerts, and much more! Last year, we served over 200 children and family members!
Families report that this program greatly impacted their family as a result of new relationships, the chance to bond with their family, improved emotional health, and more. The program has doubled in the last three years, and for many families this is one of few, if not the only program made available to them, which provides support for the entire family unit through multi-day programming.