It all started when...


In 2005, filmmaker Lysa Heslov took in a family displaced by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, an act which inspired her to visit the war-torn country of Sudan later that year.  These experiences changed her life forever. Struck by how children who struggled in war-torn countries faced similar battles as underprivileged children here in the United States, she began to dream of a way to empower children everywhere and teach them how to become empathetic global citizens through art, creativity and connectivity.

Over the next two years, Lysa's philanthropy efforts became more focused. In 2007, she participated in an aid trip to Darfur's refugee camps where she was confronted by the devastating effects of genocide on the country's most vulnerable victims—children. Lysa sought to connect with them through art. She made kites with a group of children who beamed with rare smiles as they watched their hand-made creations take flight. For a brief period of time, they experienced nothing but the simple joy that comes from creative work.

This connection had a profound effect on her, and she found herself wanting to help children in the U.S. to understand empathy and help other children affected by poverty, violence, or other painful circumstances.

Soon after, Children Mending Hearts was born. The organization has served the city of Los Angeles for the past ten years, combating bullying and intolerance by inspiring empathy in children through art and service-learning programs. It seeks to empower at-risk children in the United States by connecting them with other children both here in the United States and around the world.

Lysa's dream is to inspire future generations of compassionate and socially conscious citizens who will change a culture of bullying into one of empathy and action. She believes that empathy is transformative; that it can reduce the chance of a child being bullied, enable world leaders to find peaceful solutions, inspire nations to open their doors to families fleeing war and violence, and inspire future generations of loving and compassionate global citizens. She believes that empathy can change the world.

Children Mending Hearts started with 39 kids. Since that time, the organization has provided free art education programs to thousands of children throughout Los Angeles County. In 2018 the organization expanded and now has a CMH classroom in all fifty states and Washington D.C.

Lysa and her husband—writer, director, producer and Academy Award winner Grant Heslov—have two daughters of their own.

Lysa Heslov, founder of Children Mending Hearts




The Salvation Army 60th Annual Sally Awards Honorees: Grant & Lysa Heslov

Honoring the philanthropy of Grant and Lysa Heslov at the 60th Annual Sally Awards on September 16, 2017 at L.A. Live.


Members Project: Empowering Children through Creative Expression - Lysa Heslov

Wife of American actor, film producer and screenwriter Grant Heslov, Lysa Heslov started Children Mending Hearts. The organization gives local at-risk children and international children in conflict zones a chance to use their voices through creative expression. Take your first step by voting, volunteering, or donating with Members Project®.


Children Mending Hearts 2011 Gala Video: Will You Listen?

Children Mending Hearts, founded by Lysa Heslov in 2008, travels around the globe to connect at-risk children through creative expression.