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Free program helping children deal with grief

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Pam Wright

A program that helps children deal with grief arising from divorce, death and other painful transitions will take place in Sarnia again this fall.

Entering its 24th season, Rainbows provides counselling and volunteer-led support groups free of charge.

“It’s a safe place for children to talk,” says coordinator Annette Wilding. “Through talking through their feelings, there’s healing.”

The conflicting emotions that stem from broken marriages and the death of a loved one are among the issues covered.

Wilding said each week has a theme, such as parents fighting, when mom or dad has a new boyfriend or girlfriend, or when a parent doesn’t show up for a much anticipated visit.

Death is discussed, but Wilding said most of the problems children face are associated with divorce and separation.

Court proceedings and dealing with lawyers and other legal professionals are also explained.

“There’s a lot of grief that comes with those situations,” Wilding said. “We help bring it to the surface and give them coping skills that are good for life.”

Wilding said it’s important youngsters deal with emotional pain, because doesn’t go away on it own.

Often, parents don’t have the time or emotional resources to deal adequately with a child’s problems.

“Anger grows inside and it just festers,” she said, adding Rainbows is useful because “it works.”

Improved grades, self-esteem and closer personal relationships are benefits often gained from the 12-week program, she said.

Games and crafts are geared to ages five to 13 years. Volunteers who receive training in the international charity’s program use the materials to guide children through their grief.

While children discuss issues in small groups, parents can also attend their own groups at the same time. Both groups focus on the same topic “to keep families on the same page,” Wilding said.

The next session of Rainbows begins Sept. 22 at Redeemer Christian Reformed Church 5834 Blackwell Side Road, and runs Thursday nights.

Another session will be offered in January at Trinity Anglican Church.

Rainbows receives referrals from social service groups but parents can self-refer their children. However, spots fill up quickly.

To register, call Cindy at 519-542-4202.







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