2021 Grants Challenge

Online Arts and Athletics Lessons for Children with Chronic Illness

Idea by CoachArt

CoachArt's mission is to create a transformative arts and athletics community for families impacted by childhood chronic illness. CoachArt improves social and emotional wellbeing by matching children with chronic illness to volunteer coaches who provide inclusive, free instruction that accommodates a child’s needs, instills confidence, and ignites lifelong passions. We are instating our innovative COVID-19 online service models as a permanent program option to ensure that immunocompromised children will always have safe opportunities to learn.


In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

County of Los Angeles

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

Children with chronic illness historically experience learning inequities. Families lose access to arts programs provided by hospitals when their children move to outpatient care. Additionally, 60% of CoachArt families in Los Angeles are low income, lacking the resources to afford extracurricular activities elsewhere—especially programs that can adapt to children’s needs and physical limitations. As a result, children miss out on developmental opportunities, face ostracization as the “sick kid” at school, and experience rates of depression 5 to 7 times higher than their peers. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the circumstances for children with chronic illness in Los Angeles County who, due to their greater vulnerability, need to follow stringent precautions and are thus isolated. In the face of stress and uncertainty, children with chronic illness are in need of socialization, play, and safe environments to learn now more than ever.

Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.

CoachArt restores equity in learning for children with chronic illness by providing ongoing, adaptive lessons in arts and athletics at no cost to families. Lessons accommodate special needs, inspire lifelong passions, build self-confidence, and encourage children to remove the label of “sick kid” and redefine themselves as an artist or athlete. CoachArt’s current initiative is to further develop the online programs launched during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 96% of parents reported that lessons were engaging for their child and requested to continue online learning even after Los Angeles reopens—underlying a need for online access moving forward. CoachArt kids’ most common diagnoses are Cancer (26%), Blood Disorders (10%), Respiratory Diseases (11%), and Neuromuscular Disorders (7%). We serve a diverse population of families, comprising 53% Latino, 14% African American, 13% Caucasian, 9% Asian American, 2% Middle Eastern, 1% Native American, and 8% multiethnic backgrounds. Transitioning to an online model provides more equitable opportunities for low-income families in underserved areas of LA. Our online platform CoachArt Connect was originally designed for volunteer coaches to match with a student near them within a limited radius. We are now incorporating a functionality to CoachArt Connect which will allow volunteer coaches to match with students outside their neighborhoods, further addressing former inequities and giving all students more opportunities to learn.

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Applying a proven model or solution to a new issue or sector (e.g., using a job recruiting software or strategy to match clients to supportive housing sites, applying demonstrated strategies from advocating for college affordability to advocating for housing affordability and homelessness, etc.)

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 650

Indirect Impact: 1,000

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

Joining LA2050 in shaping the future, CoachArt makes LA a more inclusive place to learn. LA residents who volunteer with CoachArt teach children valuable skills (either 1:1 or in a group workshop format) such as painting, piano, ukulele, culinary arts, robotics and coding, creative writing, dance, martial arts, and yoga. Mentorship empowers kids to recognize their full potential and thrive despite adversity and isolation, while creating a supportive community for parents. Our goal is to further develop high-quality, online service models in order to provide equitable access to immunocompromised children and ultimately improve their social and emotional wellbeing. CoachArt ignites the creativity, passion, and confidence of children with chronic illness who are crucial in making LA’s story one of hope for all. Our vision is that one day every family impacted by childhood chronic illness will be connected to a community of support and opportunity to learn together.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

We track our progress through collecting metrics such as lesson hours and number of students served, while collecting feedback surveys which measure social and emotional wellbeing through four areas: fun; stress-relief; socialization (friendship and positive mentorship); and self-confidence. In 2020, families reported that 95% of students had fun learning, 86% felt more relaxed, 93% met a positive mentor, and 85% grew more confident. Socialization dropped by 30% (52% made new friends), thus we are building creative ways for students to interact with one another more via Zoom. From the American Academy of Pediatrics Journal, the 2018 article titled “The Power of Play: A Pediatric Role in Enhancing Development in Young Children” advocates for the benefits of play, including improvement in language and math skills. Children need to develop a variety of skill sets to optimize their development, decrease toxic stress and depression, build peer relations, and enhance their sense of agency.

Which of the LEARN metrics will you impact?​

Arts education

Enrollment in afterschool programs

Proficiency in STEM

Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.

LA is the best place to CREATE

LA is the best place to PLAY

LA is the best place to CONNECT