A new year of laughter, friendship, and camaraderie is underway in communities across the country for more than 800 i-Shine participants. As part of Chai Lifeline’s commitment to caring for the entire family, its i-Shine after
–school program is tailored to meet the unique needs of elementary and middle school-aged children living with illness of loss in their families.
i-Shine offers a supervised, nurturing, and fun environment where young participants are paired with high school-aged mentors and counselors who provide homework assistance and tutoring, play games, and engage in sports and other recreational activities. “We recognize that siblings of children facing illness are in need of extra love and compassion. They face their own set of challenges and deserve dedicated support. Our after-school programs are designed to provide them with the support and care they need to navigate their unique journey,” said Andy Lauber, LCSW, Director of i-Shine and Community Relations.
In the Five Towns, the dynamic schedule planned for this school year includes a carnival, drum circles, an animal show, visits to the batting cages and a bowling alley, menorah-making, baking programs, game truck visits, cake wars, a sweatshirt design competition, movie night, a performance by the Parrot Rebbe and a Game Show.
The Teaneck chapter plans to bring some of the following unique activities: human bingo, animal show, game truck, a trip to Urban Air, a variety of art projects, karaoke, a Purim Chagiga, a talent show, dance parties, and more.
In the newly established Baltimore chapter, children will enjoy balloon tag, tie dye crafts, jewelry-making, sports programs, dreidel-making for Chanukah, a laser tag trip, silent rave, cookie decorating and more. One i-Shine mom overheard her daughter share with a friend that because her brother is sick, she gets to “be part of a special program that’s only for kids like me!”
The West Coast chapter will take children on a laser tag trip, offer a Thanksgiving Gratitude night and project, pottery night, a Chanukah Carnival, challah bake, Purim Carnival, Exodus games and many game programs.
This year, the West Coast i –Shine has expanded beyond Los Angeles, launching a program in Phoenix. For a community that has expanded quickly, services for families in Phoenix and Scottsdale are needed. Sheva Katz, Phoenix Chapter Manager, shared, “We have heard from parents how much their children look forward to it each week, how happy their kids are after each i-Shine, and how it translates to less stress and more joy in their homes. Our high school volunteers have expressed excitement over participating in community service and the community has been incredibly supportive with many adults signing up to volunteer as drivers, activity providers, and hands-on support at the program.”
In the Southeast, there are three locations that offer programming- North Miami Beach, Hollywood and Boca Raton. Chana Gibber, I-Shine Southeast coordinator shares that “the goal is to allow children to escape everything going on at home and be themselves while spending quality time with volunteers and friends who love them and who just want to shower them all the love in the world.”
The i-Shine chapters in the Midwest, Westchester/Riverdale, New York, and New Jersey have packed schedules planned for the school year as well.
As i-Shine programming continues to blossom, it is clear that Chai Lifeline is not just filling a recreational gap; it is sowing the seeds for a community where each child is seen, heard, and supported. i-Shine is about creating a space where laughter is the soundtrack, creativity is the language, and hope is the foundation.
For more information on our i-Shine after
–school programs, to make a donation, or to get involved, please visit chailifeline.org/ishine.