Department of External Affairs
Office of Public Affairs
Contact: John P. Broder
Vice President-External Affairs


Mineola, NY – Thanks to the generosity of the Spirit of Children Program, which is devoted to bringing the fun and fantasy of Halloween to pediatric patients, the Child Life Program at Winthrop-University Hospital’s Cancer Center for Kids (CCFK) recently received a grant for more than $23,500.

The Spirit of Children program raises funds through the generous donations of Spirit Halloween customers and partners, as well as from the sale of exclusively designed eco-friendly trick-or-treat bags which are sold in Spirit Halloween stores. What’s more, volunteer employees bring Halloween celebrations to pediatric patients with costumes, pumpkin painting, games and crafts to offer them a temporary diversion from the hospital experience. At Winthrop, a special celebration was held in the Hagedorn Pediatric Inpatient Center, bringing smiles to all of the children who participated in the festivities.

In 2009, the Spirit of Children Program contributed close to $22,000 – which included a generous matching grant from Donna and Allan Axelowitz of Huntington, who son Ryan was a patient of Mark Weinblatt, MD, Chief of the Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at Winthrop and Director of the CCFK – bringing their total contributions to the CCFK’s Child Life Program to nearly $46,000.

The CCFK’s Child Life Program is committed to helping children understand and cope with hospitalization. The Center’s Child Life Specialist, in conjunction with a psychologist, social workers and medical staff, meets the unique emotional and developmental needs of pediatric cancer patients and their families, and co-facilitates a series of multi-faceted programs, including:

- Project SOAR – an individualized pre- and post-school re-entry support program addressing each child’s academic and social concerns, with the emphasis on transitioning a patient back to school during or after cancer treatment;

- Generation of Survivors – a unique program created to help pediatric cancer survivors cope with the after-effects of treatment even long after their therapy has ended;

- Creative Arts Therapy which promotes the physical and emotional well-being of patients through music;

- Kids Club – provides free emotional and social support for children, helping them deal with feelings of loss and anxiety as they get back to their everyday lives;

- Bi-weekly art and horticultural therapy programs;

- And a new, comprehensive family support group, addressing issues and concerns that impact the entire family.

“Thanks to the Spirit of Children’s ongoing generosity, and the kindness of the Axelowitz family, child life activities at the Cancer Center for Kids continue to blossom and thrive, fostering health and healing among patients and families alike,” said Linda Sweeney, Practice Manager of the CCFK.

For more information about the Cancer Center for Kids at Winthrop, visit or call (516) 663-9400.

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