Children experience the loss of loved ones just as adults do but youngsters grieve differently than adults.
The Center for Life Experience (CFLE) in Hays is offering a special retreat March 30 for children dealing with death.
“Healing Kids Hearts” is in its fourth year.
The daylong retreat is for children ages 7-12 who’ve lost someone significant in their lives, whether a relative or a friend.
“They don’t talk the same way as adults,” says Ann Leiker, CFLE executive director and a licensed social worker. “They may want to grieve creatively, doing things like making a memory box with pictures and drawings.” Music and story writing is often part of the process.
Children attending past retreats have made bird houses and memory stones to place in a garden to honor loved ones. This year’s activities will include a balloon launch.
The young participants learn about grief, how to embrace it and how to cope with it so they can move forward in their journey of healing.
Each child is paired with a trained adult volunteer as a matched “buddy” for guidance and support throughout the day.
“They become friends and they just share. The kids come in pretty quiet and by the end of the day, they’re smiling and they have hope,” Leiker said. “They have memories of their loved one that they can share.”
“Healing Kids Hearts” will be held 9:45 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sat., March 30 at the Sternberg Museum of Natural History, 3000 Sternberg Drive. Applications for participants and volunteers are being accepted until March 8 on the CFLE website.
Cost is $10 per child which includes a T-shirt, tote, lunch and snacks. The cost for families with two or more children attending is $5 per child. Financial scholarships are available.
A separate session for adults will be held during the morning.
More information is available by calling or texting Leiker at 785-259-6859, or by email at email@example.com.