No parent is prepared to hear that their child has been diagnosed with cancer. Such an illness means a battle for life, in which the kids are not the only ones involved. Parents take part in the same struggle, experiencing feelings of shock, sadness, depression, anxiety, or fear, among others. For families going through such moments, courage is an essential weapon in this fight and, as a Pfizer campaign in collaboration with McCann Health Italy shows, kids are a great source of inspiration when it comes to bravery.

Via this week’s #ThrowBrandThursday column, fearless young patients take the center stage, teaching their parents how to cope with emotions and combat their fears through the power of martial arts. “The Brave Belt — Stronger Together” is an initiative made for the pharmaceutical company in collaboration with Kids Kicking Cancer (KKC) Italy, implemented to help parents and provide them with the strength they need to support their little ones.

“Though parents feel like they need to be an example of courage for their children, it’s the lessons we learn from children, and their strength in the face of adversity, particularly life-threatening illness, that can be an inspiration to all of us,” said Matt Eastwood, Global Chief Creative Officer, McCann Health.

KKC’s mission is to ease the pain of very sick kids using martial arts as a form of therapy. This way, children learn breathing exercises, meditation, and traditional karate moves that enable them to pass their knowledge to others. They can help other patients struggling with illness as well as their own parents or caregivers learn how to “breathe in the light and blow out the darkness.”

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Four simple martial arts techniques — “breathe,” “concentrate,” “defend,” and “react” — are featured on a black karate belt that young cancer patients have created to give to their parents, thus teaching them how to cope with emotions.

“Our purpose is to develop and make accessible innovations that change patients’ lives, and this initiative is part of our commitment to patients, that goes well beyond clinical therapies. We chose to support The Brave Belt – Stronger Together entirely dedicated to young cancer patients that must initiate and continue a treatment path with strength and courage,” said Päivi Kerkola, CEO of Pfizer Italy.

“This project aims at not only providing psychological support to children but also to their parents, helping them better handle the fears and the discouragement comprehensibly due to their child’s condition. And the example given by these children becomes a universal message of trust and encouragement for all patients and their caregivers,” Kerkola added.

The Brave Belt has become “a symbol of courage. For everyone,” as director Bruno Palma described it. The belt received the endorsement of FIJLKAM (Federazione Italiana Judo Lotta Karate Arti Marziali), the Italian Federation of Judo, Karate and Martial Arts and has officially become a support program for kids and parents, being adopted by 25 hospitals in Italy.


Client: Pfizer Italy

Agency: McCann Health Italy

Chief Creative Officer: Fabio Teodori

Creative Director, Copywriter: Sarah Amatori

Art Director: Pietro Gigliotti

Client Service Director: Eleonora Morini

Account Manager: Alice Morabito

PR & Communication Senior Account Manager: Dania Copertino

PR & Communication Account: Elena Talpo

Digital Manager: Andrea Nosotti

Production Company: Sator International Group

Director: Bruno Palma

Music: Danilo Caposseno