Org Spotlight: Kythe-Ateneo Meaningful, Hope-Giving Service

Org Spotlight: On Kythe-Ateneo’s Meaningful, Hope-Giving Service

Redefining service, fostering hope.

Learn all about the student-led, university-based Kythe-Ateneo, an organization dedicated to manifest children’s healing through hope and togetherness, from current president Bea Luna.

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In simple acts of togetherness, sharing, and play, we could find hope and healing. This is an advocacy constantly championed by student organization Kythe-Ateneo, an accredited sector-based organization at the Ateneo de Manila University.

As a branch of Philippine-based Kythe Foundation, Inc., founded in 1992 by two MS Psychology students Girlie Garcia-Lorenzo and Icar S. Castro, the organization provides opportunities for children with chronic illnesses to learn, play, and grow while in the hospital through what they call “Child Life Services” or CLS.

kythe-ateneo children outreach foundation student organization ateneo de manila university

With its campaigns, initiatives, fundraisers, hospital visits, and projects, Kythe-Ateneo has been one of the busiest and most popular sector-based organization in the Ateneo. The community it fosters and the avenues for service it provides entice plenty of students to apply every year, engaging with the community, empowering themselves and each other, and redefining what it means to serve and love.

Current president and fourth year BS Health Sciences student Bea Luna, who’s been a “Kyther” her entire stay at the Ateneo, shares with NYLON Manila all about what Kythe-Ateneo’s service is all about, and the joys, challenges, and hopes that come with it. Read the interview below.

kythe-ateneo bea luna kythe foundation student organization ateneo de manila university

What is Kythe-Ateneo’s main advocacy?

Kythe-Ateneo advocates for a purposeful understanding and practice of CLS: the science of providing medical and therapeutic play to alleviate the stress and anxiety of pediatric patients with chronic illnesses.
We also aim to promote the growth and development of patients to help them overcome and cope with the challenges of hospitalization.

How are these advocacies upheld and realized?

In Kythe, we believe that a Kyther must have three values: passion, action, and direction. We practice passion through member formation, which comes in the form of reflection sessions where Kythers discuss experiences and insights, bonding activities like welcoming events for new and old Kythers and Tambay Week, and individual consultations where all Kythers get the opportunity to bond and reflect on their experiences with their assigned officer and mentor in the organization.

Action, on the other hand, comes in the form of project involvement. We make sure that Kythers practice active participation in our advocacy events and fundraisers.

kythe-ateneo foundation student organization ateneo de manila university

Direction comes in the form of hospital volunteerism through onsite and online hospital visits and creating hospital play activities and modules that provide support to the kids and contribute to their development. We hope to reach pediatric patients and their families across the country, as well as advocates who would be willing to dedicate a piece of their time and efforts to help out with us.

What are some of your biggest projects and initiatives?

Kythe-Ateneo is most well-known for our buddy events, hospital visits, and Hair2Share & Wigs2Give. Buddy events are activities where Kythers (and sometimes non-Kythers) directly interact and play with the kids on campus or online, like Kythe Week-Kythe Flying, Kypihan, and Celebrate Life Kamp.

kythe-ateneo processing outreach foundation student organization ateneo de manila university

Hair2Share and Wigs2Give is Kythe-Ateneo’s hair donation campaign that encourages and collects hair donations from around the country to turn them into medical wigs for kids and other patients who may need them.

Now, we’re relearning the ins and outs of hospital visits, placing the safety of the kids as our top priority given their immunocompromised situation. While we prepare for the Kythers’ return to the hospitals, Kythers remain active in terms of hospital volunteerism through their creation of hospital activities for the kids. These activities are collated into Kyzones, which are activity books focused on honing the learning development skills of the kids, and are sent to pediatric patients nationwide.

kythe-ateneo processing outreach foundation student organization ateneo de manila university hospital visit chronic illness

Before every project or initiative, what are your main objectives or what do you hope to impart as you engage with the community?

Through our projects and initiatives, we hope to make the kids feel like kids before they are patients, which is why we place efforts on ensuring that our activities are enjoyable and worthwhile for them. We do so through fun games, shows, and activities that they can experience and explore with us. We make sure that we also have activities for their parents and guardians. For our fundraisers, we hope to collect enough funds to forward to KFI so that we can also support their efforts directed toward the kids’ healing, both physically and psychosocially.

At the core of every project or initiative is our goal to manifest healing through simple sharing and togetherness. It doesn’t cost a lot to practice CLS. Sometimes, it’s through simply being present. Sometimes, what the kids are looking for are just playmates who they can happily spend their day with!


What would you say about some people’s perception of themselves as members of organizations (or organizations themselves) as “saviors” to the communities they engage with?

I think it’s time that we detach ourselves from our perception of being “saviors” of the sectors we serve. These kids and their families, despite their illnesses and the everyday challenges of hospitalization, are strong as they are. I even believe they are much stronger than I am. At the end of the day, we’re not here to be the kids’ “superheroes” to give them everything that they need or to magically “save” and heal them from everything that they are going through.

We are not here to save their lives; we are simply here to walk with them through their healing and to make it worthwhile, especially for the kids who would rather laugh around and play than spend their day undergoing painful and stressful medical procedures. This is why we place emphasis on how the things that we do in Kythe are done for and with the kids. 

kythe-ateneo foundation student organization ateneo de manila university

How do you and your fellow Kythers personally handle the emotional and often taxing work done with Kythe-Ateneo?

Dealing with our advocacy is no easy feat. With our advocacy comes the need to face and manage one’s emotions, especially those brought about by pain and loss, which I believe are co-products of a life well-lived and loved. This is why we value our time to converse with one another, and through these conversations, we are able to better acknowledge and process our thoughts and feelings, with the comfort that we are in a safe space.

kythe-ateneo processing outreach foundation student organization ateneo de manila university

Individual consultations are really big in our culture too. We also have initiatives to further celebrate the kids’ lives, like Interfaith Commemoration which is done to remember all the kids who have passed away. We are constantly reminded that at the end of the day, we are not alone in the advocacy and that there are so many of us fighting the good fight along with the kids. 

Why do you think having, maintaining, and inspiring hope is so valuable to the communities of children Kythe champions and to people in general?

I think hope is valuable in itself because it is a driving force that helps us move forward in spite of the challenges we face. It helps us go beyond accepting our fate and to be firm in our conviction to carry on because there is still a lot to look forward to, even if these things can’t necessarily be seen yet. For the kids, hope does not take the form of a promise that everything will be better or that no more challenges will come their way—rather, hope comes in the form of “there may still be a long way to go, but I’m not alone as I go through everything.”

kythe ateneo

What have you learned throughout your journey with Kythe and what do you hope every Kyther learns in their experience in the organization?

One lesson that always stuck with me is how the progress in our advocacy is not always measured by the number of projects we have, the number of kits we created, or the grandness of our activities and gimmicks for the kids. Because at the core of the CLS is making the kids happy through sharing and togetherness, which is manifested even through the simplest things like one’s presence. As I sat with the kids assigned to me, I realized that my presence there as their “ate” and playmate was enough.

Some Kythers “Kythe” through managing projects, taking captivating photos, creating beautiful artworks, donating their hair, volunteering to do logistics and secretariat work, and so many more. It shows that we shouldn’t limit ourselves as advocates and that we are free to choose how we want to serve and advocate. Just a piece of advice to all advocates out there, go and seize the opportunities provided to you! This is what I did, and I saw myself falling more in love with the advocacy in the process.

Interview has been edited for length and clarity. Photos courtesy of Bea Luna and Kythe-Ateneo.

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