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A Year of Emotion Helps Children Find Hope

March 6, 2017. By

When Kerri Steele and her children were grieving, a friend recommended Draw It Out to help the children remember their father and keep their memories close.

When Kerri Steele and her children were grieving, a friend recommended Draw It Out to help the children remember their father and keep their memories close. Over time, she became the go-to: people called her on a weekly basis asking if she’d contact a family going through a cancer diagnosis. Kerri said, “I just started buying them and giving them to people I knew.”

But that’s not all Kerri did. In the three years of her husband’s cancer treatment, Kerri had trouble finding resources beyond paid counseling that helped children through their emotional distress. One year after he passed, she began the process of opening a nonprofit to support children affected by cancer.

“The biggest help is to know other kids feel this way, there’s not something wrong with me for being embarrassed because my mom lost her hair or what have you.”

Little Hearts of Hope was born: every month for a year, families get to focus on a specific emotion—anger, shame, embarrassment, and more. The family also receives a welcome package, and in that package they’ll find an Art with Heart book to help children work through the whole range of their emotions. Kerri sends play and art therapy materials to give children tools to work through emotions, but she also includes talking points for adults. “It helped me when my counselor said, ‘That’s normal—kids think that,’ which helped me talk with my kids. The biggest help is to know other kids feel this way, there’s not something wrong with me for being embarrassed because my mom lost her hair or what have you.”

Every month, Little Hearts of Hope checks in with the families enrolled in the program, and her ultimate hope is to strengthen family bonds, so that emotions, even difficult emotions, are expressed instead of pushed down and hidden. During the anger month, for example, she sends water balloons and a target: together, the family can write down things they’re angry about and throw their balloons at the target.

We’re proud to be a small part of a program that can bring hope to so many grieving children, and Little Hearts of Hope mission dovetails beautifully with our own—helping children move through their pain in healthy and meaningful ways.