Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Grief and loss programme seeks community volunteers

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Candice Thum is the area coordinator for Seasons for Growth.

A grief and loss education programme is looking for volunteers to aide in its mission to emotionally and socially help grieving children.

Seasons for Growth seeks to help children in their times of need.

It uses the imagery of the seasons to illustrate experiences of grief – change for autumn, stories for winter, feelings for spring and choices and moving forward for summer.

It aims to strengthen the social and emotional wellbeing of children aged from 6 to 18.

They are dealing with major life changes such as death, divorce and significant losses.

Seasons for Growth teaches them to explore the impact of change and loss in their lives and learning new techniques to deal with these changes.

The programme involves small groups of children participating in eight one-hour sessions.

They receive a journal to complete throughout the experience and interact with peers of similar age groups and circumstances.

“Young people learn that they are not alone in dealing with the effect of change, loss and grief,” Seasons for Growth writes.

“They build their communication, decision-making and problem solving skills within a supportive peer group.”

Lorna glimpsed an ad in a local paper, Rodolfo was searching for volunteer experience and Cara heard it in a church announcement.

They all became volunteer companions for Seasons for Growth.

Companions are trained adults that facilitate the small group program, where “participants support each other in age appropriate and engaging activities,” Seasons for Growth writes.

Lorna wanted to “give back” after experiencing grief within her own life.

“I love being there when the children come in,” Lorna says. “Sometimes they even ask to come back during the holidays!”

Rodolfo has been volunteering for three years.

He says that the programme teaches them fundamental skills such as resilience and self-reflection. “I’ve seen many positive transformations in the children during their time with us,” he says.

Cara was a teacher. She felt like the programme would be a good combination of her skills.

“One child complained a lot the first two sessions,” she says. “In the third one, they’d zoomed in – so happy to take part.”

She compared it to a “stranger on a train”. “We are companions to the children on this particular journey,” she says. “Then we part ways.”

Candice Thum, the area coordinator for Seasons for Growth, says that it is “very rewarding” but that “it’s not for everyone”. Potential volunteers must be vetted and attend a weekend training session.

As Season’s for Growth demand from local schools in Flat Bush is increasing, they are especially looking for volunteers within and close to that area.

“Volunteers can give as little or as much as they have,” Thum says.

She adds that she’s “continually humbled by the skills and compassion of our volunteers”.

Visit https://www.facebook.com/seasonsforgrowth/ for more information.

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