This is an invitation to provide a chance for children whose families have been affected by cancer to join the On Belay family, a chance to realize they are not alone.
“No one gets left behind and no one gets left out. You are in a place where everyone feels safe and you can be brave, feel strong, and have fun!”
- Syndey Pepin, On Belay participant-
The stress of a cancer diagnosis affects whole families. Living with a parent’s diagnosis is often a long, lonely, life-changing experience. The fear, confusion, sadness and isolation can be unbearable for anyone, especially children. On Belay recognizes that the needs of children in a crisis situation are different than those of adults. On Belay is a unique catalyst for connecting young people whose lives have been turned upside by the diagnosis of cancer in their family. Program participants become part of a community that understands the challenges they are facing – a community that joins them in celebrating life, not fear.
In 2004, when Durham resident and mother Crescentia Healy-True was diagnosed with breast cancer, she immediately recognized the challenges her two daughters, ages 12 and 14, were about to face. After researching support groups and bereavement programs that might provide comfort for the girls while she underwent treatment, she determined none were the right fit for her animated, active, and adventurous daughters. Recognizing this unmet need, Crescentia decided to create an alternative to traditional therapeutic support systems, and On Belay was born.
On Belay provides unique adventure-based programs that build community among children aged 9 to 19 who have or have had a family member with cancer. Using adventure activities such as rock climbing and high ropes challenge courses, On Belay programs create a metaphor for participants, teaching them that if they can figure a way through these challenges, they can overcome anything. Participants are encouraged to connect with other children facing similar challenges, to think creatively, to challenge themselves, to support others, and to ask for help, all while building physical and emotional confidence.
Our programs serve over 150 families from 41 towns throughout New England. Our programs are always free to any family in need. Please help us keep children in need On Belay with your gift today.