Okizu (oak-eye-zoo) comes from the Sioux language and means unity, to come together, to heal from a hurt, to make whole.
The mission of Okizu is to provide peer support, respite, mentoring, and recreational programs to meet the needs of all members of families affected by childhood cancer.
For 35 years, Okizu has been committed to the continuing support of the Oncology, Siblings, Family, Bereavement, and Teens-N-Twenties programs. These programs are the result of a collaborative effort between Okizu and the pediatric oncology treatment centers in Northern California. The specific purpose of Okizu is to operate peer support programs for children and families affected by childhood cancer based on the community-forming nature of a residential camp experience.
Children who are diagnosed with cancer miss a normal childhood. Their illness, treatment, and complications can keep them from enjoying activities that often are taken for granted. And yet these children, like all children, need the opportunity to grow, experiment, and discover independence. Okizu began with the belief that a residential camp can be an ideal setting for children struggling with cancer to explore and enjoy a normal life experience, while interacting with others who truly understand their illness.
We quickly learned that all family members, including the ill child, parents, and siblings, are impacted in powerful and unique ways by childhood cancer. The opportunity for interactions with true peers and the strong sense of community fostered by a residential camp environment provide valuable emotional and practical support for continuing the cancer journey, while also allowing everyone to take a break from their routine and have a great time.
Okizu is more than a summer camp. We work with all of our partners, from volunteers to national medical institutions, to reach and support those we serve, all year-round, and whenever we are needed.