Children's Hospital Boston launches Generation Cures, web-based philanthropic community for tweens
A healthcare first, Web site educates and empowers
October 29, 2008
Children's Hospital Boston has launched Generation Cures, a web-based philanthropic community designed for tweens (ages 8-12) and their parents to raise financial support for pediatric medical research. Through fun game play and digital entertainment, this first-of-its-kind site inspires kids to care about others, understand the concept of giving and believe they can make a difference in the world. Along the way, kids learn about science and medicine and strengthen their skills of logic, reason, critical thinking and creativity.
The original online games, animated stories and kid-directed videos at Generation Cures were created by award-winning educators and designers to spark kids' natural curiosity and compassion. While all of the game and story content was developed with tweens in mind, the accompanying parent site offers suggestions and tools for sharing in the experience with children.
"In an increasingly consumer-driven and cynical culture, parents are finding it tougher than ever to teach their kids important life lessons about caring, helping others and what it means to be a good member of a community," said Jan Cady, chief philanthropy officer at Children's Hospital Boston. "At the same time, it's hard to drag kids away from the computer. Many parents worry about what kind of impact so much computer time has on their kids. With the launch of Generation Cures, parents can now turn to a safe online destination that kids will love, and they can feel great about supporting."
Introducing Family-Based e-Philanthropy
Leveraging the power and reach of the Internet, Generation Cures represents a new e-Philanthropy approach that centers on families. The collective giving of the Generation Cures community will support doctors and scientists at Children's Hospital Boston who are dedicated to discovering life-altering cures for childhood diseases around the globe.
Here's how it works: In contrast to tween sites that charge monthly subscription fees, all Generation Cures content is free to families who register on the site. Kids will love the content, and parents will appreciate the positive impact it has on their kids. In turn, the hospital hopes that parents, relatives, friends and corporations inspired by the site will support Children's Hospital Boston's world-changing research efforts by making financial gifts to Generation Cures. In this way, Generation Cures not only helps children understand the concept of philanthropy, it puts them in the driver's seat to mobilize their family and friends to take action to help other young people, catalyzing a movement of empowered, caring kids.
"While children represent 20 percent of the U.S. population, only a small fraction of the national funding for medical research is allocated to finding cures for pediatric illnesses," said Cady. "There simply isn't enough funding to find cures and better therapies for suffering children. As one of the top children's hospitals in the country, we see the devastating effects of this gap firsthand, and know Generation Cures is the kind of grassroots program that can make a dramatic difference."
Good for You Content that Does Good for the World
Generation Cures launches as the emerging trend of kids helping others through the power of the Internet continues to strengthen. In fact, nine of out 10 of the 2,000 children recently surveyed by Just Kid Inc, a marketing and research firm focused on children, said it is "extremely, very or somewhat important" to help others and to give back to their communities. Generation Cures provides kids with content that nurtures this growing enthusiasm and tools to make an immediate impact.
The site includes:
- An animated series, Zebrafish--named after the small, yet powerful, transparent fish perfect for studying disease--tells the story of friends who form a rock band. When a band member falls ill, the kids begin to see how they can use their music to help their sick friend.
- Caduceus, the site's adventure game, takes the Zebrafish characters' alter egos and places them in a fantasy world, inviting kids at home to help find cures for a deadly virus. Players have the opportunity to contemplate the issues that face modern day scientists--from tracking down the source of a disease, to isolating its causes, to mixing and matching ingredients to find a cure.
- Kid Vids put former patients in the reporter's seat, interviewing Children's world leaders in medicine and science. Children's Hospital Boston researchers and doctors are seen through the eyes of kids who have been treated at the hospital, providing visitors with a behind-the-scenes view of the very real effects of research and care on their own generation. Kid viewers get a small glimpse of another child's journey--one often quite different from their own.
"After I got better, I realized my seizures were scary for my friends and family too," said 16-year old Samantha. In her Generation Cures Kid Vid, Samantha interviews neurosurgeon Dr. Joseph Madsen, who severed a connection between the right and left sides of her brain to prevent her from having recurring seizures. "They felt so relieved when my operation was a success. It was great to go back to Children's to interview my doctor on film and share the story of my treatment with my friends, family and all the kids who will go to this website."
While built especially for kids, Generation Cures is a family event. The site encourages and equips parents to take an active role--whether it is discussing the real-life experiences of the children in the Kid Vids with their families, receiving special emails that open the door for them to talk about the game's scientific and medical content with their children, or playing along with their kids to solve more difficult game puzzles.
The site is also rich with kid-cool features that complement the educational content, including downloadable ringtones of original Zebrafish music and a path to earn a full set of multi-colored rubber bracelets featuring secret symbols that correspond to each Caduceus game world. In addition, kids who register automatically get their own personal bulletin boards, which they can customize by posting their game scores and Generation Cures sponsors.
"Kids are innately compassionate, and they want to make the world a better place," said Anissa Mayhew of Tampa Bay, Florida. Mayhew's blog, Hope4Peyton.org, chronicles the Mayhew family's journey as daughter Peyton battles leukemia. "Generation Cures is so special because it helps kids understand how they can help, and empowers them to make change happen. Whether they know a child who is sick or are just exploring what it means to reach out to others, they will see how small acts of kindness can snowball and change the lives of kids all over the world."
Julie Murphy, CXO Communication
Generation Cures is a web-based philanthropic community built especially for tweens (ages 8-12) and their parents, providing free and safe access to original content that teaches kids about the power of caring, compassion and giving. Representing an innovative new approach to e-Philanthropy and a healthcare first, Generation Cures mobilizes kids and their families to help fund research to cure debilitating children's diseases.
Children's Hospital Boston is a leading source of life-saving treatments, groundbreaking research and compassionate care for children in New England and worldwide. In its annual "America's Best Hospitals" issue, U.S. News and World Report has rated Children's Hospital Boston one of the top two children's hospitals for 19 consecutive years. Children's Hospital Boston has the largest and most active research program at a children's medical center.