To ease the pain and trauma of children while empowering them to heal physically, spiritually and emotionally.
The Heroes Circle is a global healing and wellness initiative inspired by the children of Kids Kicking Cancer.
We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that offers evidence based martial arts therapy to kids. Our focus is on pain and stress management for pediatric patients, as well as creating resilience and support for otherwise healthy children. Classes are delivered in person and virtually throughout hospitals, medical facilities, outpatient centers, home visits and schools across the United States and globally.
Journey to the Heroes Circle
In 1999, Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg started Kids Kicking Cancer in response to the amazing benefits he found that martial arts meditation and breathing techniques have for those in great pain and stress — particularly children. As the program began to develop, parents, doctors, nurses and many others began to comment on the changes they saw within the boys and girls who had joined our classes. These adults were nothing short of mesmerized as they witnessed kids utilizing a technique for taking control of pain, fear and anger. In addition, the children became natural teachers of these methods.
Backed by research, our martial arts based meditative techniques have proven successful in reducing pain in children with cancer and other chronic illnesses, as well as their otherwise healthy siblings.
As a result, Kids Kicking Cancer expanded from servicing only pediatric cancer patients, into the creation of the Heroes Circle®, an initiative dedicated to lowering the pain and stress of ALL children.
In 2005, our Heroes Circle Pediatric Patient Program was expanded to work with children, teens and young adults with sickle cell, hemophilia, GI issues, organ transplants and many other pediatric illnesses. Today, we are empowering nearly 2,000 children in 62 hospitals and have program locations in 21 U.S. states and 10 countries.
With the support of MRI data and an appetite for social and emotional learning programs, the Heroes Circles School Program (and supporting curriculum) was developed. Piloted in the Oak Park School district in 2018-2021, the Heroes Circle School Program was designed to empower schoolchildren to take control of their stress with the support of individuals at all levels of the school community (teachers, principals, administration, etc.). Our longitudinal survey data indicates that many of the children who participated in our School Program are still using the techniques they learned to manage stress nearly five months after instruction ended. The success of this pilot has garnered statewide attention and is the basis for the launch of our middle school curriculum in 2021-22.
Kids Kicking Cancer began in the summer of 1999 when Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg created a pilot program at Children’s Hospital of Michigan (CHM) to demonstrate the power of therapeutic martial arts. Rabbi G., as he is affectionately referred to by the children, is a black belt in Choi Kwang Do as well as a clinical assistant professor in pediatrics at the Wayne State University School of Medicine. He and his wife, Ruthie, lost their first child to leukemia in 1982.
Rabbi G. first experimented with a therapeutic martial arts program at Camp Simcha where he was serving as the Camp Director; the camp provided a summer sleep away experience for 200 cancer patients between the ages of 3 and 19 in the early 1990s. It was there that he experienced how desperately sick children were positively transformed by martial arts movement and empowerment. At that time Rabbi G. was serving as the full-time spiritual leader at Young Israel of Southfield. With the permission of his congregation, he incorporated Kids Kicking Cancer in June of 1999 and began teaching weekly classes at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan with the first 10 children. One of those students is now a full-time black belt Martial Arts Therapist (MAT) for the Heroes Circle.
Rabbi G. is an awardee of the Robert Wood Johnson, Community Health Leaders Award in Washington D.C., known as the United States’ highest award in community public health. He has been honored as a Hero in People Magazine, CNN Top Ten Heroes, and the Ford Motor Company’s Heroes Gallery, amongst the many media stories featuring the work of Kids Kicking Cancer.