When a death occurs, it is important to not forget about the children.
Adults focus on the funeral and getting their loved one’s affairs in order, while the children are sent outside to play. They are grieving as well, however, and Central Okanagan Hospice Association (COHA) has ramped up its supportive efforts over the past year through the expansion of their Children and Youth Grief and Bereavement Program.
In an effort to provide bereavement services for children and youth throughout the Central Okanagan, COHA is partnering with major Canadian foundations to help with its expansion. One recently formed partnership is with PUR KIDS Foundation, the charitable arm of Modern PURAIR. The foundation offers a wide range of support for children and families, and it will be giving a monthly donation to COHA to help support their children and youth services.
“COHA is not only reputable, which is important for us, but they’re extremely thoughtful in their level of patient care,” PUR KIDS Foundation executive director April Martin says. “And we’re just really happy to come alongside and support them and continue that work.”
COHA recognized the important need of expanding their children and youth services after witnessing the strong impact of healing with their Adult Grief and Bereavement Program.
“There are long-term benefits when children and youth have access to grief services that are structured specifically to how they grieve during their developmental abilities,” COHA grief and bereavement services director Ian Kunitski says.
“The continuum of services offered will only benefit the community in the long-term as COHA is the only organization in the Central Okanagan offering the diversity of grief supports which is important when supporting vulnerable children and youth.”
Having partners like PUR KIDS helps COHA meet its increasing demands and allows it to better prepare for the future as more individuals reach out for services.
Coincidentally, one of COHA’s child and youth bereavement programs was held earlier this month. COHA’s Children and Youth Horse Whisperer Grief Camp uses horses to build valuable coping skills when dealing with the stress of a loss. Activities include riding, grooming, horse husbandry and a nature walk.
“COHA would not be able to provide the level of support needed to help grieving children and youth without the generous backing of foundations like PUR KIDS,” Kunitski says. “Thanks to their kindness, we are able to help kids and teens in the Central Okanagan when they need it the most and without barriers such as cost, transportation and time.”
Martin was able to attend the Horse Whisperer Grief Camp herself. Witnessing her foundation’s support in action was a touching experience.
“We have locations across the country, so often our giving is done online or sometimes I have the chance to connect with organizations over Zoom,” Martin says. “But to be able to be there in person and see the way that the animals connected with those kids and vice versa was really just such a privilege to witness.
“Without programs like that, these kids wouldn’t have the space to connect with others who are going through something similar and can relate to them. And the opportunity to not only process their grief, but to process it in such a unique way is pretty invaluable to these kids and something that they will never forget.”
In addition to the horse camp, COHA also offers expressive arts nights for teens, where they collaborate with art therapists and explore feelings associated with grief. They also offer children and teen grief groups, one-to-one support, anticipatory grief support and in-school outreach support before and after school.
“To support COHA and the programs that they offer is really a gift of humanity, where we’re acknowledging that grief is not going away. It’s there. It will always be there in some capacity,” Martin says. “But with places like COHA, there is hope for processing and hope for healing.
“I hope that by partnering with COHA we can encourage other organizations or individuals to also give.”
This article is written by or on behalf of the sponsoring client and does not necessarily reflect the views of Okanagan Edge.
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