Thesis Title

Kids Helping Kids Side by Side

Graduation Date

Fall 1996

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

Degree Granting Institution

Notre Dame de Namur University

Program Name

Art Therapy


Approximately 135,950 individuals of varying socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds will be diagnosed with cancer in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties in 1996 (Hass, 1996). Many children will struggle through this family crisis and Kids-Helping-Kids-Side-by-Side is a program developed to support them through the process and protect their future. In March of 1994, the Cancer Support and Education Center began the existing Kids-Helping-Kids support group for children of parents facing life-threatening illness or for children who had already lost a parent to fatal disease. The program has developed successfully, but a great need exists to extend it to include individual therapy. The focus of this therapy would be to encourage children to share their emotions through art; sand-tray therapy; and movement, mind, and body process work. This proposal requests the award of a $20,000 grant to The Jennifer Altman Foundation to conduct a Kids-Helping-Kids-Side-by-Side program for 1 year. These funds will allow children aged 2 to 18 years to meet twice a month for 1 hour of individual therapy for 1 year following the death of their parent. The program offers a threefold focus: (a) a safe environment using art activity as the major communication vehicle, (b) an appropriate place to express feelings and emotions surrounding the death of a parent, and (c) therapy sessions building strong coping skills and self-esteem during family crisis. These children desperately need an in-depth program to guide them through a healthy grieving process. Feelings and emotions can be fully expressed through art. This grant award will allow the Kids-Helping-Kids-Side-by-Side program to enable these children to develop the coping skills and self-esteem that will successfully bring them through the most challenging time of their lives.