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Helping Kids With Cancer: Local Council Makes a Big Impact in Ohio

by Julie Greenberg
 | Sep 17, 2014

As teachers, we are fortunate to see positive change in our classrooms every day. To make a difference in my community, I look to my local council, the Toledo Area Council of the International Reading Association (TACIRA) in Ohio, to volunteer my time. And this year’s council service opportunities really touched my heart.

In 2013–2014, TACIRA collaborated with Cancer Connection of Northwest Ohio (CCNWO). Our work together has made our members aware of several important issues within our community. We have now learned that there are not many resources for children with cancer, there are very few resources for teachers who may have a student with cancer and there are many misconceptions about cancer,
especially childhood cancer.

We supported CCNWO by offering resources to assist with teacher education about cancer and share the goals of raising awareness for children with cancer in the Toledo area. We also offered insight into creating a cancer awareness program for schools with resources found on teacher websites, assisted with research to help CCNWO reach educators, and sought out materials from other cancer agencies to help with teacher education about students with cancer. Our members even worked together to reach out to our local chemotherapy patients served by CCNWO. TACIRA opened our September meeting during National Childhood Cancer week to be the first organization to view the CCNWO PowerPoint presentation.

In September, I met a 7-year-old girl, Zoey, by chance.

She was at the hospital to give out her rubber band bracelets to patients while visiting and comforting her grandfather who was undergoing chemotherapy. Zoey was asked to leave the cancer hospital due to an emergency at the facility. I got in touch with Zoey’s family to see if she would like to sell her bands
for the Toledo Council’s Childhood Cancer Awareness project.

The Zoey Band sale was very successful, and the Council sold out at our first meeting. The money raised was used to purchase the materials for the holiday ornament project to reach out to chemotherapy patients at several clinics and hospitals.

Hundreds of area students made handmade ornaments and cards with a positive message using’s interactive tool to create theme poems. We were able to purchase 200 ornaments thanks to Zoey Bands. This Childhood Cancer Awareness project resulted in additional supports from Mercy College of Ohio, who attended our TACIRA meetings and presented to their students about the efforts of our local IRA council and sold Zoey Bands there at the college. CCNWO was awarded funds to support the needs of children with cancer in part due to our work to spread the word. Several members of the medical college and Cancer Connection of NWO are now members of TACIRA.

The children served by CCNWO were invited to attend our May 2014 Children’s Literacy Day event at the Wildwood Metro Park, a collaboration with Metro Parks of Toledo. More than 600 parents, teachers, and students attended the event to meet award-winning Ohio Author David FitzSimmons (Curious Critters series), and many of our members purchased and donated Curious Critters books for the children attending!

To further connect literacy with healing, I collaborated with Jean Schoen, founder and director of CCNWO, to develop a children’s book for cancer awareness. Created by CCNWO, Someone I Know Has Cancer helps children who may have loved ones with cancer. We are very proud of all that we were able to do to help CCNWO, and we hope to continue making a difference in our community. For more information about our council, see To find your local IRA council, see /councils.

Julie Greenberg is the TACIRA President, a reading teacher and intervention specialist at Coy Elementary, Oregon City Schools, and has been an IRA member since 2008.


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