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Kidz b Kidz: Art That Raises Money for Pediatric Medical Research

Corderman working with kids
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Margaret Lampert

Nancy says parents love the idea of nurturing kids' empathy through artwork. And the artists and their teen mentors are profoundly affected too. Twelve-year-old Katie, who is confined to a wheelchair, is proud to see her drawing of a dancing chick on the hospital's cups and tray covers. "Hopefully this happy little chick will make other patients smile," she says. Seventeen-year-old Elizabeth, one of the teen mentors, says that working with the young artists has inspired her to become a teacher.

When Hannah heads off to college next fall, she intends to start a KbK program on campus. Tyler organized a special gallery opening at a restaurant in Boston. Eliza, 13, the family's fashionista, designs and dresses mannequins used to publicize upcoming art parties. And Henry, 11, illustrates the thank-you notes that KbK sends to guests and donors. Since the business is home-based, the Corderman kids get a firsthand look at what goes into building a nonprofit. And their mom gets to balance parenting and philanthropy. Despite the long hours, "we never feel exhausted, because the work is so rewarding," Nancy says.

Of course, there are challenges. Donations are tougher to come by in this economy. Nancy and David have put some of their savings into operating costs, and occasionally Jan and Nancy must take on extra design jobs to supplement their income. They've also had to be innovative about expanding beyond Boston. Schools and organizations throughout the U.S. have shown interest in hosting art parties, but "we can't be everywhere," Nancy says. Thanks to a new initiative, anyone in the country can now download a free step-by-step fundraising manual from KidzbKidz.org, with guidelines on running art parties in their own communities to benefit pediatric research and KbK educational programs.

Powered by kids and mentored by adults, KbK gets children thinking beyond themselves. "We encourage them to use their artful hands and generous hearts to make a difference," says Nancy, who hopes the compassion lasts a lifetime. "We really do believe that you can change the world, one masterpiece at a time."

Party with a Purpose

At your next birthday celebration, Bar or Bat Mitzvah or sweet sixteen, set up a table with art supplies and information about the program and encourage partygoers to draw for the cause. Then upload the artwork to the online gallery, where friends can buy souvenir shirts featuring their creations. For more information, go to KidzbKidz.org.

Originally published in the May 2012 issue of Family Circle magazine.