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Stories help children make sense of difficult experiences. During a time when their world has been turned upside down, young minds desperately need to hear tales that engender hope, love and personal triumph. Puppets and storytelling can be used to reach out to children who have been affected by illness, both to comfort them as well as to encourage them to communicate. Games and art activities help relieve stress and let children enjoy just being kids again. Each week Healing Young Hearts volunteers visit the Tianjin Medical University Cancer Hospital to conduct activities in the pediatric ward.



Long-term hospital stays for children with life-threatening chronic diseases can be taxing physically and emotionally. How children view their experience can make a world of difference. Our activity packs provide children with a positive image of themselves and their medical journey that acknowledges them as the brave and determined fighters that they are.  Designed in consultation with an international team of psychologists, our packs help parents, volunteers and medical staff to find simple ways to talk to children about their feelings and emotions during treatment. Teaching children a self-soothing skill that we call "Warrior Breathing" can help them better manage pain and fear.


Each pack contains a 32 page magazine,  finger puppets, crayons, scissors, glue, stickers and game materials, and reinforces the concept that every child is supported by a caring networkof hospital staff, volunteers and family.  Over 1000 free packs have been distributed to child patients so far.


The Healing Young Hearts project was launched in response to the devastating 8.0 Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan, China in May, 2008. Our team of international and Chinese volunteers banded together to create free training resources for children emotionally traumatized by the disaster which left over 87,000 dead or missing, 347,000 injured and over 5 million homeless. Many schools collapsed and teachers carried the burden of helping the children in recovery, while dealing with their own trauma.  Healing Young Hearts volunteers visited and trained teachers from the disaster zone 6 times during the following three years, working with the Beijing National Children’s Center, the Sichuan Children’s Center, the Heilongjiang Children’s Center, and the Heilongjiang Department of Education.  Our resource handbook, Healing Young Hearts: A Handbook of Practical Teaching Material for Disaster Recovery, was approved for use by the China Education Ministry and 20,000 free copies were distributed to teachers and volunteers in the earthquake zone.  Our disaster resources have been used by international organizations such as UNICEF, the International Red Cross, and CHART, as well as by individual volunteers around the world.  Free edited versions of this handbook and other resources are available 


Equipping volunteers with the skills they need is an important part of building stronger, healthier communities. Children who have the opportunity to experience extra-curricular activities such as art, reading, music and organized games reap measurable benefits socially, emotionally, physically and scholastically. Those who benefit the most are the children who are most at risk, yet they are often the most neglected.

 Healing Young Hearts volunteer training teaches how to use the arts to help children develop valuable life skills such as literacy, communication, teamwork, handling difficult emotions and developing a positive self-image. 

University and community volunteers have used their training to work with children in low-income areas, rural schools, migrant families, community centers, hospitals, orphanages, institutions and displacement camps.  Jeanne Riether has been appointed a student volunteer mentor at Tianjin University, and regularly conducts volunteer training in various other universities in the city.



Collaborating with Johns Hopkins Hospital, the Stroup Kids-for-Kids Foundation and the China Association Against Epilepsy.


Healing Young Hearts produced the first Modified Atkins Diet (MAD) training DVD in China.  This innovative, cost effective project was launched on July 15th, 2012, helping Chinese speaking physicians train patients and families to use MAD therapy to treat difficult -to-control seizures. The films are now available for patients for free viewing on the Guangdong Association Against Epilepsy wesbite.


Welcome to Healing Young Hearts, where volunteers, parents, and teachers can discover free resources to help children find emotional healing after heartbreak, illness, domestic instability, disaster and trauma.

At Healing Young Hearts, you will find free uplifting, practical resources such as games, activities,

inspirational stories and articles, lesson plans, worksheets and more.

Healing Young Hearts resources have been used by international volunteer organizations, parents, and schools worldwide to help children during their darkest hours of crisis. Visit to learn more, and download free materials.

Jeanne Riether is one of the co-founders of the Healing Young Hearts Project in 2008, now based in Tianjin China.

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