Yellow Springs, Ohio, August 7, 2007 — At a time when an estimated 40,000 children return to school after battling a pediatric cancer, a new Web site now makes it possible for students and teachers to welcome these young survivors back to the classroom.
Inspired by the critically acclaimed A LION IN THE HOUSE documentary, which last month was nominated for a primetime Emmy for Exceptional Merit in Nonfiction Filmmaking, the Web site –www.mylion.org — provides instant access to information about pediatric cancer and to service-learning projects where classmates can help a peer undergoing cancer treatment. Each project is correlated with national curriculum standards and has a 10-minute clip from A LION IN THE HOUSE.
A LION IN THE HOUSE, which had a national broadcast on the Emmy-award winning series Independent Lens in June 2006, galvanized public attention for childhood cancer by following the stories of five courageous children and their families. Insights from the documentary have been used to develop Mylion.
"Cancer is not fair, and childhood cancer is even less so," said MyLion project director Melissa Godoy. "Not everyone can find a cure for cancer, but we can all contribute to finding that cure, or we can make life better for patients and families."
To ease the anxieties for classmates returning to school after cancer treatment, MyLion.org offers access to service-learning projects, such as Welcome Back Bag, where students discuss the challenges of fighting cancer and then organize a welcoming project for a peer. Another project, Find Your Strength In Numbers: Save a Life, Plan a Blood Drive, shows students how to sponsor a blood drive to help children in the community undergoing cancer treatment. According to the U.S. Department of Education, a third of all schools and half of public high schools provide service-learning, a teaching method that engages young people in solving problems within their schools and communities as part of their academic studies.
"Back to school offers a wealth of opportunities for service-learning, including projects designed to help classmates batting cancer and their families," said Steve Culbertson, president and CEO of Youth Service America (YSA), a leading national organization focusing on service-learning for youth and a national partner of A LION IN THE HOUSE. "This is an ideal time for service-learning experiences that help students acquire academic skills and knowledge, but put them in a position to become more compassionate about other children who need empathy and support."
MyLion.org has also teamed up with SuperSibs! (a national support group for the brothers and sisters of children with cancer) to raise awareness of the impact pediatric cancer has on siblings, who often feel frightened, angry, jealous, grief stricken, stressed, depressed and even abandoned. Besides giving students and teachers access to service-learning projects designed specifically for siblings, MyLion.org offers classmates these tips for supporting the brother or sister of a child with cancer:
? Keep in mind that you can´t "catch cancer" from someone else, and that siblings didn´t do anything to cause their brother or sister to have cancer.
? Ask siblings how THEY´RE doing — and then really listen. (Don´t always ask them for the medical report on a brother or sister. Siblings want to know that people genuinely care about them, too.)
? Introduce a sibling by his or her own name (not as "Jimmy´s brother or sister").
? Send fun mail addressed to the sibling — individually, by name.
? Invite siblings to join in fun activities or outings. Siblings need to laugh, have fun and be themselves, even (and especially) during this challenging time for the family.
? Remind siblings they´re not alone and to reach out for support.
? Celebrate the siblings´ own accomplishments. Remind them that they´re special — just for being who they are.
? Teen siblings are often thrust into a "third parent" role, with extra responsibilities. Offer to help do these chores with them.
? Remember that this is a long journey for siblings. Don´t expect them to "just get over it" after a certain period of time. Your supportive friendship (for many years) can help siblings have strength, courage and hope.
"A pediatric cancer diagnosis affects everyone in the family," said Melanie Goldish, SuperSibs! Executive Director. "Siblings need to know, especially during the fight against cancer, that they are special and important people, too, and that their classmates and friends are there to support them during this difficult time."
A LION IN THE HOUSE is a co-production of the Independent Television Service (ITVS), which funds and promotes independent films in the U.S. and presents them on PBS. Information about the additional educational tools produced in conjunction with A LION IN THE HOUSE is available at www.lioninthehouse.com.