Fifth-grade students at Locust Valley Intermediate School participated in a community service activity in honor of a middle school student currently battling cancer. Olivia LoRusso was diagnosed with cancer while she was a fifth-grader at LVI last year. Teachers at the school brought in Healing Headbands, a non-profit company that strives to provide laughter and hope to children battling cancer and those around them.

The program began with a laughter exercise. Healing Headbands founders Joanie Accolade and Barbara Grapstein created a silly mood and the room filled with deep belly laughs. The laughter is intended to release stress and inhibition and help creativity flow. 

Feeling happy and relaxed, the children then sat down to create headbands. They painted their original designs on strips of paper that would later be transferred to comfortable headbands – one for the LVI student and one for a child battling cancer. Some children designed colorful patterns and some wrote messages of encouragement and love.

Fifth-grade teacher Katherine Smith said the Healing Headbands program is beneficial in many ways. She explained that supporting Olivia is one of the main goals. “Olivia is not done battling her cancer and as long as her fight continues, we will continue to do our part to support cancer patients in her name,” Smith said. 

Beyond that, the program fits in well with the curriculum. Smith explained that students learn best when they take action. Since they spend time learning about community, she said that taking action to support cancer patients reinforces the lessons on being a community and helping each other.