Thursday, November 30, 2023

Gathering for grief support

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From left, Howick Local Board deputy chairperson Bo Burns, Seasons for Growth Howick committee chair Ken Stevenson, Baverstock Oaks School principal Genée Crowley, and Seasons for Growth Howick area co-ordinator Candice Thum. Photo supplied

A group of people dedicated to helping members of the community heal from grief recently gathered for an information session hosted by an east Auckland charity.

Seasons for Growth Howick area co-ordinator Candice Thum says the organisation provides a small group education programme that supports children and young people to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to understand and respond well to change, loss, and grief.

She says change and loss are part of life and grief is a normal response to these losses.

“Seasons for Growth is an eight-week education program where participants complete the program in small peer groups.

“It’s an evidence-based and highly-regarded programme internationally.

“Locally, Seasons for Growth has a unique and important role to play in promoting mental health and healing within your school and wider community.”

Its goal is to strengthen the social and emotional well-being of children and young people who have experienced major changes in their lives such as a loved one’s death, separation of caregivers, moving schools and moving overseas, she says.

Attendees learned how the charity helps people through grief and loss and the important role the programme plays in local schools and the wider community.

Howick Local Board deputy chairperson Bo Burns, a “vocal champion” for Seasons for Growth, served as the event’s master of ceremonies, while Baverstock Oaks School principal Genée Crowley was guest speaker.

Burns shared her personal story about grief and how participating in the charity’s peer support group helped herself, her mother and daughters through a difficult time.

Crowley provided insights into the grief and loss many children face, and how attending such programs gives children space to make sense of their grief, understand they’re not alone, and begin to regulate their emotional responses in positive ways.

Thum says trained and police-vetted volunteers, called ‘Companions’, facilitate the groups.

The structure creates a safe space for children and young people to practise new ways of thinking and responding to the change and loss that’s occurred in their lives.

The service is offered free to the community and Seasons for Growth Howick relies on donations and local grants to survive.

People who want to know more about the organisation or are interested in becoming a volunteer, or would like to donate, can phone Thum on 022 423 8904 or email

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