Along with the diagnosis of a serious illness comes time away from school. Whether it is only a day here and there or maybe weeks or months at a time, this can be hard for the child and their classmates.
Monkey in My Chair is a program originally developed in honor of Chloe Watson Feyerherm for pre-school and elementary aged children who are away from school because of a cancer diagnosis. As a result of Chloe's experience, her mother, teachers and community got together to develop the Monkey In My Chair program through the efforts of their newly established charity, the Love, Chloe Foundation. In 2011, in an attempt to have the program complement cancer research efforts, the Love, Chloe Foundation partnered with The Cure Starts Now Foundation to offer the program to a wider audience, thus increasing both awareness and donations to not only support the program but also fund the cure for cancer.
Through the program, each child is provided with a "monkey kit" which includes a big stuffed monkey that takes their place in school when they are unable to be there. The kits include the monkey with a backpack, a book to help teachers explain to students the situation their classmate is facing and how it affects them, teacher companion guide, along with other items that can be utilized by the child and/or their classmates. All kits are sent out at no cost to the families or hospitals.
In addition to each "Monkey Kit," each child will be given online access to Monkey Message. Monkey Message is an online component that allows the sharing of pictures and documents to ensure the line of communication stays open between the patient and the classroom. Included in the Monkey Message portal are regular educational activities for the classroom and patients to do that help to foster interaction of students while incorporating key educational tools.