“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Frederick Douglass
Families trying to cope with grief, adjustments, and recovery following divorce, separation, or bereavement need support to navigate their new normal. HomeBuilders is a unique 12-week program giving children the tools to process their emotions and giving the parents the reinforcement needed to support their children through the transition. It uses experiential learning activities to help participants learn and apply healthy coping strategies. There is a long-term benefit to the entire community when children are helped to positively resolve significant grief in their lives. It enables them to build their own families in the future. Strong families build strong communities.
Last year, HomeBuilders was launched at two community sites. The feedback from these sites was encouraging. As expected, some of the children were having a hard time getting engaged with the program. They were pushing boundaries and had big emotions that were unresolved. But something shifted in the later weeks: the children were all fully engaged, they wanted to be there, and they made new friends. The parents opened up and built connections with one another and the facilitators. They loved it so much that they were asking when the next semester was going to start. The facilitators really saw the difference it was making in the families, and the families were applying what they were learning in their everyday lives. Parents would get reports from teachers that something was different in their kids. They said, “Whatever is different, it’s working!”
Not only was it impactful for the parents and children, it was also impactful to the facilitators who were leading the classes. They found that they were building strong connections with the families and that they were being stretched in ways they had never been stretched before. Though the program could be intense at times, the facilitators came out of it full of compassion for these families and ready to do the program again. The facilitators have expressed what a blessing it is to be able to play a part in these families in bringing them hope, love, and care! These facilitators are community volunteers, wanting to empower and walk hand-in-hand with families who are going through a difficult season. Their love and kindness towards the next generation will see long-lasting effects as children learn coping strategies for their emotions instead of burying them and seeing them erupt, unresolved at a later date.
HomeBuilders isn’t magic, though sometimes it may seem that way. It gives children space to process their emotions, and the support needed through a difficult season in life. With lesson titles like “All My Feelings Matter” and “Mad Isn’t Bad” we know that these kids are getting the support needed to acknowledge and process their emotions.
If you or someone you know might be interested in this program, or you know of a host organization that may be interested in becoming a HomeBuilders partner, give Kids On Track a call at 780-481-2942.
Written by Maria Karesa, Child and Family Coordinator, Kids On Track, and Kristy Chaisson, Program Director, Kids On Track.