A Year In Reflection
by Darcy Walker Krause, JD, LSW
A few weeks ago, we had a group of 15 students from Mifflin Elementary – a school a few blocks away – visit The Center to learn about what we do. After one of their classmates experienced the shooting death of her father, the class decided to study violence, and as one of the children explained, death is a result of violence so they wanted to learn about what we do. Prior to coming to visit us, the class took a poll and found that 58% of the students had experienced the death of a loved one to violence. Having shared my story of losing my mom at 15 as my reason for working at The Center, one of the children raised his hand and asked me, “You lost your mom at 15. So when does grief end?” Pausing a moment, I said, “It doesn’t. But what we do here is help grieving children and teens feel supported, learn how to express their feelings, identify supportive adults in their lives that they can talk to, and promote coping skills so that when the next ‘grief burst’ happens, they can pull on their inner ability to get through that time. Grief is a journey.” The Center for Grieving Children is a companion in that grief journey.
As we come to the end of our program year, the summer gives us time to reflect on the successes and challenges of the prior year and to take these lessons forward into next year’s programming. Beginning this process of reflection, I am overwhelmed by the sheer impact of this past year for The Center. This last year, The Center’s work with grieving youth has made a tremendous impact on the individual and community level.
On the individual level, more than 350 children and caregivers participated in grief groups offered in East Falls, West Philadelphia, South Philadelphia and in schools across the City of Philadelphia.
On the community level, The Center has provided trainings to more than 250 front-line professionals who work with grieving children and families daily, as well as several parent workshops at schools where The Center ran grief groups. The Center has also engaged in crisis response work with Philadelphia area public and charter schools and community centers, where a student or community member died.
Looking towards next year, we are still working to expand our reach further into the city – to support the most vulnerable, grieving youth in their communities. For these kids, violence is a daily part of life and loss is all too common. The Center can help scaffold the support for these children, fostering their own resiliency and inner strength. We are also expanding our age ranges – creating both a younger elementary group for children ages 4-6 and a young adult program for adults ages 18-25.
Whether you’re a family, volunteer, financial supporter, teacher, mental health professional, or interested community member, we hope that you take the time to learn more about what we’re doing to help Philadelphia’s grieving youth.