Support for children going through life traumas

Burns Lake program has helped hundreds of children over the years.

Rainbows for Children, a peer support program for children who have experienced a significant loss or a painful transition in their family, has been making a significant impact in the lives of children in the Lakes District.

The program is part of an international non-profit organization with over 25 years of experience with grieving youth and adults called Rainbows.

The program started in the Lakes District in 2002, and since then, it has helped hundreds of children going through pain or loss. Every year, 20 to 30 children participate in the program.

Judith Carroll, Program Coordinator, said last year the 14-week program started with 28 participants.

The program offers support for children as they navigate grief and heal from loss, whether from death, divorce, deployment or other trauma. The primary goal of the program is to provide a safe, supportive environment for young people to sort through their pain and confusion, build self-esteem and learn coping skills to help them deal with their various losses.

“Rainbows is not counselling or therapy, but it’s therapeutic in its results,” said Carroll.

The program accepts children from kindergarten to grade seven. Children are separated into smaller groups according to their own age level, and they are assisted by trained facilitators. Parents do not participate in the meetings.

“We try to put children with the same concerns and same age in a group so they see that they are not the only ones having problems and they can share their views with the other children and get feedback,” explained Carroll. “This is not counselling; it is a peer support group for children.”

Through this support group, organizers hope to assist children to express and understand their feelings, to feel accepted for what has happened, and feel a sense of love and belonging.

“You can see such a change,” said Carroll. “One time there was a child that was crying for the first couple of meetings; he was not sure of his surroundings, but on the last night he came up and gave me a hug.”

Carroll said it’s important to make children feel that they are in a safe space. That’s why facilitators make it clear that everything shared during the meetings is confidential.

“Children are not required to speak unless they want to,” said Carroll. “What is discussed in the group stays in the group.”

The next program starts Sept. 14, 2015, and it will be held at Immaculata Church. Participants are asked to register before Sept. 4, 2015.

If you would like further information, contact Judith Carroll at carroll_judy@hotmail.com or 250-692-7037.