At Gilda’s Club Madison, we recognize that cancer impacts the whole family. Our Children, Teen and Family programs are designed to offer a place to connect, talk about experiences, and most importantly, know you are not alone.


Family Night

Family Night is a no cost program for children, teens, and their families who are impacted by cancer. The night begins with optional dinner on Tuesdays from 5:30-6pm, followed by support groups (for children, teens, adults with cancer, and caregivers) from 6-7:30pm. Volunteers are available to keep an eye on kids under 4. Programs include Cancer Support, Therapeutic Medical Play, and Connecting through Grief and Loss.

Versions of family night offered in 2023 (see below for full descriptions and dates)

  • Cancer Support
  • Therapeutic Medical Play
  • Grief and Loss

Kid Support (Cancer Support)

Sessions Planned for 2023

  • Session 1:
    • Orientation February 7, 2023 @ 6pm 
    • Weekly, February 14-April 18, 2023
  • Session 2:
    • Orientation September 26, 2023 @ 6pm 
    • Weekly, October 3-December 12, 2023

Interested in Registering or Have Questions?

Contact Elizabeth Kunz CCLS, APSW at elizabeth@gildasclubmadison.org or 608-828-8875.

Kid Support™ is a free peer support group for children ages 5-11 who are affected by cancer; for both children who know someone with cancer and children who themselves have cancer. This 10 week program uses a combination of education, art, expressive games, and team-building to help children feel safe to ask questions, express difficult feelings, and share common experiences.

Teen support is a free peer support group for teens 12-18 who are affected by cancer; for both teens who know someone with cancer and teens who themselves have cancer. This 10 week program uses a combination of education, art, expressive games, and team-building to help teens feel safe to ask questions, express difficult feelings, and share common experiences.

Supportive play is a free group for children 4 years of age and younger who are affected by cancer; for both children who know someone with cancer and children who themselves have cancer. “Play is the work of kids,” and this 10 week program allows space for kids to grow, learn, laugh, and play. 

This group is for parents or guardians of children and teens who themselves are living with a cancer diagnosis, through treatment and up to 1 year following treatment.

This support group is for the adult family and friends with children and teens, who are supporting someone with a cancer diagnosis. Come meet and share support with others in the same role.

Kids Play (Therapeutic Medical Play)

Sessions Planned for 2023

  • Weekly, May 2-June 6, 2023

Interested in Registering or Have Questions?

Contact Elizabeth Kunz CCLS, APSW at elizabeth@gildasclubmadison.org or 608-828-8875.

Medical play involves interacting with real or pretend medical equipment in a playful way, such as giving a teddy bear a pretend IV for chemotherapy or using a syringe to paint a picture. It can help children understand and become more comfortable with medical tests, procedures, treatments, and the overall cancer experience. Therapeutic medical play gives children a way to express their feelings, fears, and anxieties and helps them learn ways to cope with things that may be stressful or upsetting (cancer.gov). This group is a free group for children ages 5-11 who are affected by cancer; for both children who know someone with cancer and children who themselves have cancer. Throughout this 6 week program, children will engage in therapeutic medical play facilitated by a licensed mental health professional. 

Teen Time is a free peer support group for teens 12-18 who are affected by cancer; for both teens who know someone with cancer and teens who themselves have cancer. Throughout this 6 week program, teens will have the opportunity to connect with peers and learn more about cancer throughout a variety of therapeutic activities. 

Supportive play is a free group for children 4 years of age and younger who are affected by cancer; for both children who know someone with cancer and children who themselves have cancer. “Play is the work of kids,” and this 6 week program allows space for kids to grow, learn, laugh, and play.

This group is for parents or guardians of children and teens who themselves are living with a cancer diagnosis, through treatment and up to 1 year following treatment.

This support group is for the adult family and friends with children and teens, who are supporting someone with a cancer diagnosis. Come meet and share support with others in the same role.

Kids Connect through Grief and Loss (Grief Support)

Sessions Planned for 2023

  • Orientation July 25, 2023 @ 6pm
  • Weekly, August 1-September 5, 2023

Interested in Registering or Have Questions?

Contact Elizabeth Kunz CCLS, APSW at elizabeth@gildasclubmadison.org or 608-828-8875.

This 6 week program is designed for children ages 5-11 who have experienced the death of someone they know to cancer. This program uses a combination of education, art, expressive games, and therapeutic activities to help children feel safe to ask questions, express difficult feelings, and share common experiences through grief and loss.

This 6 week program is designed for teens 12-18 who have experienced the death of someone they know to cancer. This program uses a combination of education, art, expressive games, and therapeutic activities to help children feel safe to ask questions, express difficult feelings, and share common experiences through grief and loss.

Supportive play is a free group for children 4 years of age and younger who have experienced the death of someone they know to cancer. “Play is the work of kids,” and this 6 week program promotes a healing space for kids to be kids.

This 6 week workshop series is for parents and caregivers with teens or children, who are grieving a death to cancer.


Socials

Gilda’s Club hosts social gatherings for families to connect with other families affected by cancer. Visit our calendar for monthly family social events such as baking, hikes, games, and much more!


Short Term Individual or Family Sessions

Gilda’s Club Madison offers up to 6 support sessions to children, teens and families impacted by cancer, all offered at no cost. We recognize that cancer impacts the whole family. You may have questions or concerns about how to talk to your kids, what resources to use, and how to best support children and teens through a cancer diagnosis or death from cancer. Kids and teens often have questions and concerns themselves, and can find meeting with a mental health professional helpful. Sessions for kids and teens can include engaging in a therapeutic activity that promotes emotional expression and developmentally appropriate ways of understanding difficult or challenging topics. Sessions are tailored to meet individual needs. Our Children, Teen and Family Program Manager, Elizabeth Kunz (she/her) is a Certified Child Life Specialist and Advanced Practice Social Worker who has experience supporting children, teens and families, and is here for you and your family. 

For more information or to schedule a session, please call 608-828-8875 or email elizabeth@gildasclubmadioson.org.


School and Community Support

Gilda’s Club Madison offers free school and community based education and support for folks impacted by cancer or a death to cancer. We work with children, teens, families, students, teachers, staff, and community members to provide education and support through interactive presentations, consultations, lectures and workshops. Support available for children and teens in the community also includes developmentally appropriate preparation for a hospital visit, medical procedure, attending a funeral, and other potentially challenging life events due to cancer. For more information or to schedule, please contact Elizabeth Kunz CCLS, APSW at elizabeth@gildasclubmadison.org or 608-828-8875. 


Volunteering & Supporting Our Program

Interested in volunteering for our Children, Teen and Family program? Complete our volunteer application and sign up to attend a Children, Teen and Family Program volunteer training. 

Do you have a talent or expertise you’d like to share with our kids, teens or families? Please contact Elizabeth Kunz at 608-828-8875 or email elizabeth@gildasclubmadison.org

Consider helping by giving. Support the Children, Teen and Family program by donating items from our Amazon wishlist, making a gift online, or email elizabeth@gildasclubmadison.org for additional ideas.


Elizabeth Kunz

Children, Teen and Family Program Managerelizabeth@gildasclubmadison.org 608-828-8875

Elizabeth (she/her) recognizes the importance of spaces where those whose lives have been touched by cancer can show up as their authentic selves. Spaces to connect, create, listen, learn, talk, play, heal, grow, and be met with validation and support. Elizabeth has let this philosophy be her focus with training as a Certified Child Life Specialist, Advanced Practice Social Worker, Lead Child Care Teacher, Violence Prevention Educator, Wilderness First Responder, Emergency Medical Technical, and Firefighter. With a strong background in physical and psychological safety, she intentionally designs and facilitates programs. She works to ensure the best fit for its members and infuses creativity, providing an experience that is unique, engaging and meaningful.


Wisconsin teens were invited to submit one piece of art, writing, or video that is a reflection of their connection to cancer. The teens were cancer survivors, have a loved one with cancer, have experienced a death to cancer, or have been touched in some way in their life by cancer.
All submissions were part of the Gilda’s Club Art Show and can be viewed in our digital exhibit.