When Kristen Fitzgerald lost two of her children to catastrophic illnesses, she pledged to redirect the anguish of her tragic experiences toward easing the suffering of seriously ill children and helping parents avoid the struggle of finding resources and emotional support for their own children. She founded “Brave Kids,” an online portal for information and support, and now, almost 12 years later to the day, United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) has molded Fitzgerald’s vision of love into a powerful new resource for kids and parents, adding the perspective of people with disabilities.
Brave Kids was launched in the San Francisco Bay Area during March 2000. The Brave Kids website rolled out nationwide in 2002, in collaboration with the University of California, San Francisco; the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital; and a number of corporate sponsors. Following the launch, Brave Kids donated resource centers to pediatric wards of hospitals located in California and Florida. UCP took ownership of the website in 2011, and is proud to carry on the legacy of Brave Kids by providing the information, resources and support that visitors and users have come to trust and rely upon.
The new Brave Kids (bravekids.org) is an encyclopedic resource for children, youth and teens ages 6-17 with chronic/life-threatening illnesses and disabilities, their families and caregivers, providing information and resources on numerous disabilities, medical conditions and genetic diseases. It includes a secure online community for parents and caregivers to share ideas, gain support and have conversations about issues relevant to this group. Brave Kids is a part of UCP’s new Public Education & Outreach initiative, which aims to provide vital support and information to people with their disabilities and their families during key moments of transition. For more information, visit ucp.org/publiced.
“UCP is proud to couple UCP’s strong tradition of serving people with disabilities and their families with Kristen Fitzgerald’s vision that no parent should feel alone in times of grief and struggle,” said Stephen Bennett, UCP President & CEO. “Brave Kids is a critical piece of UCP’s Public Education & Outreach initiatives, which guide people with disabilities and caregivers through the entire life cycle. UCP is delighted to re-launch Brave Kids and deliver regularly updated news and content through the resource.”
Brave Kids provides the following:
- Information, resources and a support community. In addition to detailed information about health and wellness, family and caregivers can sign up for a monthly newsletter and connect with Brave Kids on social media platforms by following Brave Kids on Twitter and Facebook. Users will also stay up to date on current issues. An important part of Brave Kids is the secure support community of individuals whose common experiences help to build connections are share information.
- A place for kids, youth and teenagers 6-17, to get information to lead fuller, richer lives. The special Just for Kids section helps young people access information that helps them lead a life without limits, giving tips and tools about growing up in today’s world. The website is specifically created to be simple for both children/teens and adults to navigate.
- A vital link in UCP’s continuum of transitions initiatives that span the entire life cycle. UCP’s Public Education & Outreach (PEO)efforts provide people with disabilities, their families and caregivers with support, resources and information throughout all stages of life for a life without limits. This is part of UCP’s mission to advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with a spectrum of disabilities.
Brave Kids would not have been possible without generous donations from the Medtronic Foundation and Shionogi. Inc. “We could not have brought Brave Kids to a wider audience without the support of these two key partners,” Bennett said. “Both understand the importance of quality, objective information to parents and caregivers and care deeply about the future lives of those we serve.”
For more information on how you can support Brave Kids or any of UCP’s Public Education & Outreach efforts, please contact Nick Pietras, Manager of Strategic Partnership & Events, at firstname.lastname@example.org.