Terry Fox will forever hold a special place in my heart. I was nine in 1980 when he ran his Marathon of Hope right through our Southern Ontario town, and was part of the crowd that greeted him in a local park with my family.
When Terry was at the microphone, I realized he had been running on a bleeding, sweaty stump and all I could think about was how much pain he must have been in, and that he had cancer. My friend’s mom had just died of cancer. It made me tremendously sad, and very afraid of hearing that word again.
Little people and the ‘c’ word:
Sometimes with preparation for the run / walk-a-thon, talk and media surrounding Terry Fox, young kids will focus on Terry’s artificial leg. More kids know someone living with cancer or have lost someone to cancer than ever before. While most are matter-of-fact about it, some need more reassurance, particularly if they have a loved one who is very sick. This is a great resource for those children:
Why, Charlie Brown, Why? is written from the perspective of children, with the many mixed emotions that kids feel, and gives them the language to express themselves through the comfort of familiar characters.
Guiding the conversation:
It is very easy for a group of young students to sway a class discussion about Terry Fox into a comparison of who knows someone with cancer or who had cancer, or hypothesizing about how one would remove a leg should it ‘get cancer’, or any other scenario little minds can imagine.
It is here that we can jump in with the purpose of the run, and what makes Terry Fox a national hero. Below is the picture book I wrote a few years ago when I needed something for my grade one students. It is in colour, but there is also a black and white version included so that the kids have their own copy to colour in and keep.
I teach them that because of what Terry started 35 years ago, and what his family and organization continues today, millions of dollars are raised for cancer research.
When we walk or run our own marathon, it is like we are running with Terry in the hope to cure all cancer.
Where to find more resources about Terry Fox and the Marathon of Hope:
For an extensive collection of lesson plans and resources for all elementary school levels, please visit The Terry Fox Foundation, where you can pick your grade under the National or Ontario lesson plans. And be sure to check out the Pinterest boards on:
Does your school participate in the Terry Fox Run? Best wishes to all participating!