Fun Activities for Kids With Chronic Illnesses


Aiden was diagnosed with juvenile dermatomyositis (JDM), a rare autoimmune disorder that poses numerous challenges, both great and small, for him and his family.

In this week’s episode of The UpBeat Podcast powered by CoachArt, our co-hosts Greg and Roxanne are joined by Brandon, whose son Aiden has been a long-time CoachArt student. Brandon discusses his experience throughout the diagnosis process, including the initial emotional impact on his family, and also shares how he’s learned to help Aiden and their family thrive on a day-to-day basis.

Listen to Brandon’s interview here.

One of the issues that Brandon faces, and that affects every family impacted by childhood chronic illness, is finding appropriate activities for their child. CoachArt’s goal is to assist in that process. There are also other helpful resources to find fun, healthy activities for your child. Like CoachArt, many of these organizations offer activities for siblings as well.

Here are a few of our favorites:

1.) As noted by KidsHealth.org, camps offer amazing benefits for children, including increased confidence and independence and building physical endurance through exercise, as well as opportunities to develop friendships and personal relationships. There are still a couple of weeks left of summer, and it’s never too early to start planning for next year.

Check out their wonderful guide to finding camps for children with special needs. This list touches on diagnosis-specific camps and includes both day and overnight camp suggestions. Also, the American Camp Association will help with a specific search.

2.) We really love the information and resources provided in The Insight blog from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. This amazing platform contains lots of helpful content to support families dealing with cancer.

They feature many blogs and posts on all sorts of relatable topics, including summer activities for children. One of our favorite features on this site is their search tool. A bookmark must-have for any cancer family.

3.) For families around the world living with serious illnesses, with The Serious Fun Children’s Network, founded by Paul Newman, offers thirty life-changing camps and programs, always free of charge. All activities are “designed to foster independence, resilience and personal growth, helping children to see beyond the limits of their medical conditions and experience all that life has to offer.”

The Painted Turtle is one of the amazing camps run by Serious Fun, and they are a longtime friend of CoachArt. Located in beautiful Lake Hughes, California, The Painted Turtle is more than just a camp – it’s a place where kids can just be kids.

4.)  Real Simple has a fun list of ideas for kids who may not be able to get out and do the same activities as their peers. We love their creative suggestions on how you can keep your child entertained and possibly squeeze in a few parent-and-me bonding moments.

Do you have an organization, activity or article that your family loves? Feel free to comment below.

The UpBeat podcast is powered by CoachArt, a nonprofit organization that provides FREE art and athletic activities to families impacted by any childhood chronic illness – such as arthritis, asthma, diabetes, cancer, cerebral palsy and more.

If you have a child that may qualify for CoachArt programs, visit: CoachArt.org.

CoachArt Programs Button

Showing 8 comments
  • Greg

    One of my childhood friends also runs an amazing podcast interviewing parents of pediatric cancer patients! Amazing that we both launched around the same time….. https://www.whathopelookslike.org/about

  • Roxanne Doche

    As a cancer family, we really love the activities organized by Sunshine Kids: http://sunshinekids.org/

  • Ben

    Thanks for this post. Children living with chronic illness want to engage in fun activities, just like other kids, but they often end up feeling excluded. And thanks for your interview with Brandon — he inspires me!

  • Lizzie

    In love with the new CoachArt Upbeat, it’s such a friendly resource and it is super inspiring and uplifting!

  • Colton

    Its so great the UpBeat is offering these resources, There aren’t many websites like this. Thank you for filling a need in this community!

  • Molly

    Thanks so much for all of these inspiring podcasts and articles. Keep them coming!

  • Marci

    Terrific resources for Families with Kids with Childhood Chronic Illness. Love what your doing!

  • Emily

    This is awesome! Thanks for all of the amazing resources

Leave a Comment