Support Services are offered at our Clubhouse in Atlanta and focus directly on teaching communication skills, grief coping strategies and life skills through three initiatives – Support Services, Holiday H.U.G.S. and Park Bench. Now twice a month, licensed professional therapists conduct day-long Saturday and Sunday Support Services programs for children and teens including activities such as art therapy, music therapy, recreation therapy and circus arts. Holiday H.U.G.S. (Healing, Understanding and Giving Support) were created for the difficult times of the year when our children and their families need additional support. Holiday H.U.G.S. brings all of the Kate’s Club families together for five holidays: Siblings Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and the Winter Holidays. Park Bench is a monthly support group for surviving parents and caregivers. All Support Servicesprograms feature engaging, fun and therapeutic group activities especially designed to support and empower grieving children and their families.
EXAMPLE SUPPORT SERVICE ACTIVITIES
Walking Through Home – The kids were put into five small groups of mixed ages, each with a Buddy leader. They then participated in a scavenger hunt with questions about how their life has changed since the death of thier loved-one. Each group spent 10 – 15 minutes in each of five rooms: Living Room, Bathroom, Kitchen, Dining Room, Bedroom. They debriefed the activity after having a chance to visit each room.
“Real Time” – We have started something new in 2012. We are calling it “Real Time” and it is an opportunity for kids to experience the importance of taking a moment to center and be aware of their heartbeat, breath and thoughts: a time to “get real”. We ask the kids to be still and quiet for about 3 – 7 minutes, and this helps us to shift from the high energy of the lunch break. Out of Real Time we begin the afternoon therapeutic groups.
Art Therapy– The Art Therapist who worked with the Tweens, Middles and Littles, led them in creating superheroes to represent themselves. The superheroes allow them an opportunity to recognize and share their strengths especially as related to their responsibilities and grief. She highlighted strengths they have developed since the death of their parent or sibling. A second Art Therapist worked with the teens and 12 year olds.
Music Therapy– The music therapist leads songs and activities that help children embrace their grief and encourage open expression of feelings. Today, she highlighted ways that their role in their family may have changed or be changing, and encouraged them to remember that they are still kids. She utilized drumming, team building activities and lyric analysis.
Happy Tails Pet Therapy – Happy Tails volunteer teams provide physical, social, emotional, and cognitive therapy to people of all ages. Most people they visit often focus more on the fun they are having instead of the therapeutic benefits they receive! Kate’s Club schedules Happy Tails for our younger members to visit and socialize with the animals, and we incorporate a board game, Dog Gone Grief, which assists the children with understanding feelings and emotions related to their loss.
Cartoon Therapy – Our returning professional artist who volunteers her time, worked with the kids to help them tell their story in comic strip form.