Cam during a Minecraft party.

More than 250 kids from 33 states and four countries have registered for the Pediatric Virtual Retreat. The program is offering a series of free online activities tailored to kids with pain and their loved ones over the next several months. Events range from informal support groups to workshops to a traveling mascot awareness campaign. (The retreat, which is typically held in person, was moved online as a result of COVID-19. )

Some examples of activities so far include: a webinar with art therapist Christine Hirabayashi, PhD., a storytime and sing-along with a character actress dressed as Ariel from The Little Mermaid, and a Q&A with pain psychologist Shamin Ladhani, PsyD. There are also informal support groups for children, teens, moms, and dads, along with Minecraft parties on a special server just for the kids… and much more.

Elliott and Charlotte during Teen Talk.

Ali Kadet, 11 years old, who had never participated in the Pediatric Pain Warrior Program prior to the Virtual Retreat says, “I love the weekly ‘Teen Talk’ support groups calls and I am looking forward to the upcoming ‘Kids Korner’ support group calls and continuing to get to know the other kids better. I have finally learned that I am not alone. My illness may be invisible, but I am not.”

Ali’s mom, Debbie, agrees, saying, “I am beyond grateful to have stumbled across the retreat. Finding the Pediatric Pain Warrior Program could not have come at a better time. It has been a blessing to watch Ali receive support and acceptance from kids who understand. I look forward to every Friday ‘Mom’s Night-In’ so much. It’s just a safe place that I can vent or ask questions without fear of being judged.”

“The response to the virtual retreat has been overwhelming, and we are reaching more kids than ever,” says Casey Cashman, Director of the Pediatric Pain Warrior Program. “It has been great to see so many pediatric pain warriors connecting on a weekly basis, and beginning to build friendships throughout the events. Seeing the kids respond so positively to every activity and participate alongside their family has been truly amazing, and not to mention, they are all having so much fun!”

Kids and families can also earn fun rewards by participating, like lanyards, car magnets, and T-shirts. Everyone is tracking their activities through a “Personal Health Passport,” designed to look like a real passport, which encourages kids to take part in at least two events in the following categories: Education, Complementary Therapies, Support, Advocacy & Awareness, and Fun.

Events and activities will be added regularly! To see what’s happening next, register for the retreat below. It is free and open to all.

Thank you to the retreat’s sponsors: Johnson & Johnson and Genentech.