Thunderbirds Charities provided $30,000 to OCJ (Opportunity, Community and Justice for Foster) Kids to help children heal and recover from physical and emotional abuse and to provide hygiene and other items to youth living in foster group homes. When children are physically harmed or did not have their parents’ affection and attention during their formative years, they often have developmental delays. During the pandemic, child abuse cases escalated, but most went unreported because the children were not in school where teachers could detect any problems.
Abuse and neglect often cause significant delays in children’s physical, mental and emotional development. “Sometimes the children’s delays are so extensive that they cannot even walk or talk,” said Gary Webb, President and Founder of OCJ Kids.
Thunderbirds Charities’ generous grant will enable OCJ Kids to create and provide InterAct Boxes to at least 10 Arizona foster group homes. InterAct Boxes contain activities to help children with delays advance in their development while in foster care. These include stretching, picking up and grasping items, and breathing exercises.
The InterAct Boxes were designed in partnership with Northern Arizona University’s (NAU) Occupational Therapy (OT) Department. OCJ Kids and several foster group homes have used the InterAct Boxes for years with amazing results. Webb said, “Children who could not walk a few months ago now are running around outdoors. One boy who could not even hold a ball in his hand now plays catch with others in his group home.”
The funds also will enable OCJ Kids to train foster group home staff to use the boxes, to purchase and provide hygiene items for youth who entered foster group homes during the pandemic, and provide gift cards for the group home managers to buy other items that the youth need but that are not in their budget to purchase.
Thunderbirds Charities’ grant will improve the health, well-being and development of at least 500 children and teens in foster care in Maricopa County. “We are so honored and grateful to Thunderbirds Charities for this generous grant,” Webb said. “Thank you for investing in the lives of these precious foster youth.”
This grant is part of the Fall 2020 cycle. View a list of all Recent Grantees.