Get Involved-Spotlight: Wonders & Worries
Wonders & Worries helps children cope when their parent has a chronic or life-threatening illness like cancer. All Wonders & Worries services are offered free of charge to anyone – and are available in English and Spanish.
Wonders & Worries, located in Austin, Texas, is the only organization anywhere offering children who have a parent with a serious illness free, professional support in individual and group settings.
The impact of a parent’s serious illness on a child can be profound. It can affect their mental health, family functioning, school performance, friendships, growth and development, and overall adjustment. Typically, children in these situations are reported to experience behavioral changes, physical complaints, anxiety, decreased use of effective coping skills, and changes in sleeping and eating patterns.
Wonders & Worries counsels children in understanding the situation and handling these potential negative effects. We give parents the resources and support they need to help their family work through such a crisis.
Today, we work with more than 2,000 people in over 400 Central Texas families who are affected by a parent or other adult loved one’s life-threatening or chronic physical illness.
What we do:
Our therapeutic programs help children affected by a parent’s serious illness by:
- Giving an age-appropriate understanding of the illness, its treatments and side effects
- Facilitating expressions of feelings related to the changes in the family
- Identifying individual coping skills to help ease feelings of sadness, anger, and fear
All Wonders & Worries services are provided by Certified Child Life Specialists – professionals who are specially trained to help children and their families understand and manage challenging life events and stressful health care experiences. Currently, we offer:
- Individual Sessions – for children ages 2-18
- Group Sessions – helping children ages 5+ meet other children coping with similar experiences
- Child / Parent Relationship Training Classes – teaching parents how to reconnect with their children during the illness or following a loss
- Informal Support / Recreational Group Activities – allowing families to enjoy being together in a fun, relaxing environment
- Bereavement Support Sessions – helping families prepare for the end-of-life, gain the skills necessary to cope with loss, and create legacies
Services may be provided at one of our offices, at schools (with permission), or at another location when necessary. All services are provided at no cost to families, thanks to the generosity of our donors.
The National Cancer Institute estimates that nearly 25 percent of the 1.4 million adults diagnosed with cancer this year will have a child age 18 or younger.
Research shows that a parent’s serious illness can profoundly impact their children, and that stress within families is even higher prior to a parent’s death than following death. A 2006 study found that 29 percent of children of cancer patients experience symptoms of post traumatic stress (PTS) syndrome in the first year of the illness, with an additional group experiencing increased PTS symptoms as time wears on and they have more time to ‘fret’ about the parent’s disease.
Additional research indicates that psychosocial support and illness education provided to children at an age-appropriate level significantly helps children, eases stress within the family, improves parent’s depressed mood, and increases the parent’s ability to focus on treatment and well-being.
For seven years, Wonders & Worries has helped children and families cope when a parent faces a chronic or serious illness. Unbelievably, there is no other organization ANYWHERE offering these families timely, FREE professional support.
How can you help?
Spread the word – Tell anyone and everyone you know that it’s important to support the entire family when a parent has a serious illness. In Central Texas, refer co-workers, friends and family to Wonders & Worries, and elsewhere ask them to visit our website for a list of resources they can access.
Donate – Wonders & Worries professional Child Life staff is currently operating at capacity. We need more support from the community to be able to hire more Child Life Specialists and serve more families. We have many opportunities to recognize individuals and organizations, and we truly appreciate every gift.
Volunteer – Wonders & Worries has several opportunities to volunteer, ranging from helping plan the recreational activities for our client families, to serving on our Board of Directors, to helping plan a fun fundraising event like the The Wonder Ball – a Daddy Daughter Dance or our annual gala Que Maravilla! (see below for a complete list of our volunteer opportunities).
Wonders & Worries
923 Westbank Drive, Suite C Austin, TX 78746
phone 512.329.5757 fax 512.329.5767
Meredith Cooper, Executive Director
We invite you to help children and their families who are coping with serious illness by becoming a Wonders & Worries volunteer. For more information, please call 512.329.5757 or email wondersandworries.org .
Fundraising Event Committees – We currently have three fundraising event committees producing events for W&W. Members work both independently and with staff to coordinate all aspects of the events including sponsorship, ticket sales, food & beverage, entertainment, publicity, coordination with vendors, etc. See the events below:
The Wonder Ball, April 10, 2010 – A truly magical evening for girls and their father, grandfather or father figure, girls can visit with the Fairy Godmother, try on Cinderella’s slipper, learn to dance from the Royal Dancers, be crowned a princess, and visit with the Wonder Ball King and the Fairy Godmother. The Wonder Ball Committee coordinates all aspects of this event, including ticket sales, sponsorships, decorations, publicity, food & beverage, and volunteers. Event Chairs – Jason Lavender and Andrea Schulle.
Que Maravilla! (What a Wonder!), Saturday, August 2010 – The annual gala event supporting Wonders & Worries, the festivities at Que Maravilla include an amazing dinner and drinks, live and silent auctions, activities such as closest-to-the-pin and skeet shooting, and live ent
ertainment. This event is held annually at Texas Disposal Systems Exotic Game Ranch & Pavilion. The Committee organizes all aspects of this event including sponsorships, invitations, ticket sales, decorations, food & beverage, publicity, auction solicitation, auction coordination, entertainment and administration. Event Chairs- Meredith Bagan and Paige Amstutz
Beretta USA No Worries Classic, October 2010 – A team sporting clay shooting event, held at Cypress Valley Preserve each year. This event draws 90-100 shooters who all compete to raise the most money either by raising pledges against individual hits or flat dollar amounts. We are looking for volunteers to help with registration, working in an automated computer system to capture and tally data, food & beverage, publicity, and other duties. Event Chairs – Mike Reynolds & John S. Avery, Sr.