enCourage Kids Foundation, Recipient

Each year, children across the United States spend weeks or months in hospitals because of chronic or sudden illness and traumatic injuries. Hospitals try their best to give a warm welcome to these children while they’re away from home, but budgets don’t usually allow them to go the extra mile. That’s where organizations like the enCourage Kids Foundation come into play. For 35 years, the organization has worked hard to “make hospitals a better place to get better.” One of the ways they support children is by providing Coping Kits. These kits include a variety of age-appropriate activities to bring hope, joy and comfort to pediatric hospital patients. Their most recent Coping Kits include lip balm to combat dry hospital conditions and treatment side effects. The foundation received the lip balm giveaways through a 4imprint one by one® grant. enCourage Kids Foundation works closely with child life specialists nationwide to make sure each and every child in the hospital has access to the best possible care. Each facility is different and needs vary from playroom renovations to medical equipment to technology devices that help keep children entertained. “Every hospital in the U.S can contact us and ask for what they need. We currently help more than 280 hospital facilities nationally, and we serve close to 1 million kids annually. We are well aware of what hospitals need for their pediatric programs and what they can and cannot use,” President & CEO Michele Hall-Duncan said. For Hall-Duncan and her team, giving children power and control over what is happening to them at the hospital is key to a successful recovery. Children in the hospital often experience heightened isolation and uncertainty. Today, every one of us is feeling the same way because of the pandemic. Thanks to enCourage Kids, children and teens facing these challenging times are receiving Coping Kits. These unique kits include activity books, coloring pencils, and games to fight boredom, as well as items to make them more comfortable, such as lip balm giveaways. “Lip balms are actually on the list of items requested by children. Hospitals and some treatments can dry out patients, so they help keep these kids moisturized,” Hall-Duncan said. “We order them transparent and flavor-free so that they are suitable for everyone, but we know a couple of little girls love to collect them and pretend it is makeup.” COVID-19 has strongly impacted the foundation’s work. Hospital budgets have been reallocated for expensive COVID-19 treatments. Strict visitor regulations are in place. And hospitalized children nationwide are experiencing increased loneliness and isolation. Child life specialists are coming up with creative ways to ensure their patients feel comfortable and supported, and enCourage Kids is there to make sure they have everything necessary to do so. The Coping Kits are individually sealed and sterilized for safety. “These care packages, including the personalized lip balm, are safe, welcoming, comforting, supportive, playful, thoughtful, fun and creative,” stated a child life specialist.