Rainbow Kidz teaches skills for coping with complicated loss
“I worry that it is my fault he died.”
“I worry that the rest of my family will pass away and I will be alone.”
“I worry about my mom hurting herself.”
Read the notes – written in the crooked handwriting of children -- and there can be no doubt that death leaves its mark, no matter the age.
Listen to the stories, and you realize just how deep and complicated these children’s emotions can be as they grieve for loved ones lost to murder, suicide, overdose, cancer, and tragic accidents.
Children experience the loss of a loved one just as profoundly as the adults in their lives, but all too often their grief, anger and confusion go untreated. And many times, children will hide their emotions in an attempt to “protect” the adults around them.
That is the bittersweet beauty of Camp Rainbow and the Rainbow Kidz program – every child there has lost a loved one, so they can share their feelings without fear or shame.
Over two week-long sessions, elementary and middle and high school students attended grief groups and took part in a mix of therapeutic and fun activities designed to teach them coping skills for their grief and show them that there are others experiencing the same emotions.
“On the last day, I wrote a letter to my dad,” one camper shared. “It was the first time I had cried in a long time.”
“I learned I wasn’t alone,” shared another.
Camp Rainbow is part of Hospice & Palliative Care of Iredell County’s Rainbow Kidz program, which serves more than 600 students a year in schools across Iredell County. The program’s free, in-school grief counseling groups use a proven curriculum to teach children healthy coping skills, and have measurable results of improving key indicators of grades, school attendance and behavior in participants.
“Our theme for camp was ‘Courage’ and these children truly are brave to face what they have been through in such a healthy way,” said Rainbow Kidz Director Leigh Ann Darty “It is incredible to see them open their hearts, share their feelings and begin to heal.”
Rainbow Kidz is 100 percent community funded, and relies on donations and grants to ensure no child in Iredell County has to grieve alone. Grants in support of Rainbow Kidz have been provided by the Carolina Panthers Charities; BB&T; Speedway Children’s Charities, Ronald McDonald House Charities, United Way of Iredell County, Cecile G. Ebert Foundation, Iredell County Community Foundation, Rotary Club of Statesville and Mooresville/Lake Norman Rotary Club.