Although Kaitlin thrives as an online educator, she recognizes there’s a limit to how much support she can offer during classroom time. That’s why she’s so passionate about volunteering her time – and talents – to Pickles Group. Specifically, Kaitlin has been instrumental in helping shape the Group’s virtual programming, designed for families who aren’t always able to access in-person resources. Their virtual program provides a safe environment for kids to learn about cancer and reduce their anxieties surrounding it by participating in interactive and supportive activities.
“We really tried hard to translate this lightning-in-a-bottle feeling from our in-person sessions, to be really thoughtful about getting the same benefits to our virtual program,” Kaitlin explains.
This virtual program also hosts a targeted support group all from the comfort of home, which enables parents undergoing cancer treatment to give their kids an environment where they feel safe to express their emotions with their peers.
“[The virtual program] means that kids can sit in a room, hold their puppy, pop on Zoom and feel like there’s this whole world of other kids who get what they’re going through without putting another burden on parents who are navigating something really tough,” says says Cassy Horton, the executive director of Pickles Group who works regularly with Kaitlin. “From an access perspective, it’s... allowed us to serve kids across neighborhood, race, socioeconomic status, and geography really quickly.”
Cassy believes that this mindset and Kaitlin’s experience has made her an amazing resource for Pickles Group.
“Kaitlin has brought this really unique skill set and experience that has enabled us to deliver a high-quality virtual program really quickly, in a way that if you haven't had that background and training, it’s really hard to do well,” Cassy says.
By combining Kaitlin’s teaching experience with Pickles Group’s expertise, they’ve been able to create virtual programming that produces the same quality outcome for kids as their in-person outreach. “Her passion, her skill, her talent just shined through instantly, and the proof is in the pudding in terms of outcomes for kids,” Cassy explains.
As Kaitlin reflects on her work with Pickles Group and how it’s impacted and improved her skills as an educator, she feels her involvement has given her a new outlook on life. “I will always be sad that I had the experience of cancer, but I will always be more sad that I had to watch the people I loved watch me go through cancer,” Kaitlin says. “Having skills that I can bring to these people [to help support them emotionally] .... is the gift of a lifetime.”
To learn more about Pickles Group and their mission to provide free peer-to-peer support and resources to kids impacted by their parent’s or guardian’s cancer, please visit their website.