UC Davis and Yoursphere.com launch online community for kids with cancer
Posted Aug. 15, 2012
UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center and Yoursphere.com have teamed up to create the first of its kind interactive web community that allows young cancer patients and survivors to connect with peers all over the world.
"Kids' Cancer Corner" provides children who have been diagnosed with cancer and their support groups a rich social networking experience that is content- and age-appropriate and complies with the Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA).
The cancer center's Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Cancer Advisory Board helped develop the Kids' Cancer Corner, offering ideas for content, games and video clips. The board will maintain the site and keep it interesting with frequent updates and new offerings.
"Children with cancer often feel isolated because they may not be able to go to school, and friends might feel uncomfortable around them," says Marlene von Friederichs-Fitzwater, director of the Outreach Research and Education Program for the cancer center. "They tell us they also feel 'different' and 'weird.' That's why we are so excited about Yoursphere, a website where kids with cancer like themselves can help them feel less alone and where activities can help take their minds off the disease."
Kirolles "Cookie" Gendi was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma at age 9. He said he understands how valuable the new online community will be for children diagnosed with cancer.
"Children dealing with cancer often want to hear stories about and meet survivors who successfully completed treatment."
— Marlene von Friederichs-Fitzwater
"My world was turned upside down," said Gendi, now 23 and a UC Davis graduate. "All of a sudden, I couldn't play sports anymore. I wished I would have had a way like this to connect with other kids with cancer."
Azadeh Afkhami, also a childhood cancer survivor and volunteer at the cancer center, agreed. "It would make it much easier to share your journey with other kids going through their own experiences," she said.
The Kids' Cancer Corner extends the in-person friendships made among children in the hospital or infusion center via this network and enables children to learn and share with friends and family in a safe, like-minded, nurturing environment. It is designed to connect young people with peers, allowing them to share stories and offer words of inspiration and support. The site also offers the broader Yoursphere experience beyond the Kids Cancer Corner including games, personal web page creation (spheres), contests, philanthropy, etc.
The AYA advisory board plans to add a "cancer buddy" component to Kids' Cancer Corner allowing children who are newly diagnosed with cancer to select a trained adolescent or young adult cancer survivor to be their peer navigator through their experience.
"Children dealing with cancer often want to hear stories about and meet survivors who successfully completed treatment," says von Friederichs-Fitzwater, who chairs of the AYA advisory board. "Survivors also benefit from the satisfaction of giving back."
Yoursphere.com is produced by Yoursphere Media Inc., a Davis, Calif.-based company that is a respected leader in children's social networking. Yoursphere provides young people with the activities they love -- chatting with friends, sharing interests, posting videos, playing games, winning prizes and more -- in an environment that respects privacy and educates its community about online safety, cyberbullying and other important issues.
About UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center
UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute-designated center serving the Central Valley and inland Northern California, a region of more than 6 million people. Its specialists provide compassionate, comprehensive care for more than 9,000 adults and children every year, and access to more than 150 clinical trials at any given time. Its innovative research program engages more than 280 scientists at UC Davis, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Jackson Laboratory (JAX West), whose scientific partnerships advance discovery of new tools to diagnose and treat cancer. Through the Cancer Care Network, UC Davis collaborates with a number of hospitals and clinical centers throughout the Central Valley and Northern California regions to offer the latest cancer care. Its community-based outreach and education programs address disparities in cancer outcomes across diverse populations. For more information, visit cancer.ucdavis.edu.