Next Step works with young people who battle HIV, cancer, and rare genetic diseases. Medical advancements during the last two decades have helped these youth live longer lives and into adulthood. Over 90% of all young people living with a chronic life-threatening illness now live past the age of 21 and enter young adulthood. While that is an achievement that should only be celebrated, young people living with these life-threatening illness encounter problems with growth, development, and long-term health issues.
Sadly, many of these young people do not have the same emotional and medical support that they received when they were still in their pediatric healthcare system. In the words of late actor and philanthropist, Paul Newman: "Children with life threatening illness have many homes. Teens and young adults have none." Resources to help these youth become successful adults are few and far between once they turn 18 years of age. The lack of support causes feelings of isolation and depression for our youth, and a lack of awareness around their own health needs. Ultimately, these obstacles cause severe health consequences and impact their ability to succeed in school or at work.
At Next Step, we offer workshops, retreats, and conferences where we connect youth living with a life-threatening illness. No one understands what it is really like to live with a life-threatening illness unless you have experienced that battle too. Our programs are a place where young survivors feel safe enough to laugh, share experiences, and create a sense of community with peers who truly understand their unique challenges.
We offer a safe and ridiculously fun community where we empower young people with effective health management, job-readiness and leadership skills and the knowledge they need to begin asking “what’s next?” instead of “why me?" when mapping out their future.
Please donate to support our amazing 2015 Boston marathon team and help us welcome more youth to the Next Step community. No amount is too small. Thank you for helping us make a real impact of the lives of young people living with chronic life-threatening diseases.
-Next Step Team