Unique program to help Hunter kids tackle grief

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A unique grief counselling program has begun in the Hunter with a special one-day support group at Tree Top Adventure Park earlier this month for young people who've suffered the unexpected death of someone in their family.

The death of a parent is the most fundamental loss a child can face. Many children feel alone, isolated, different and unable to talk about their experiences for fear of upsetting others or themselves.

The unique grief counselling service Keeping Connections: Childhood Bereavement Program was developed with these children in mind. The first of its kind for families in the greater Hunter region, the program which is run by the Department of Forensic Medicine, Newcastle, helps young people tackle their grief in an age-appropriate, safe setting.

With our funding support, the eight-week program is now available to local children aged 7 to 12 years old whose dads have died, with a parallel group for surviving parents and caregivers.

The program kicked off with a special one-day support group at Tree Top Adventure Park earlier this month for such young people who've suffered the unexpected death of someone in their family.

Almost 20 youth took part in the program which saw them support and encourage each other up in the trees as they faced the rope obstacle course. The kids were placed out of their comfort zones and facing unfamiliar and challenging situations. By supporting each other, they helped build each other's confidence to achieve more than they thought possible.

Back on the ground and guided by qualified counsellors, the young people also shared their feelings about the challenges they faced, how they overcame them and connect those experiences to ways of coping with the challenges of loss and bereavement.

The program was featured in an NBN News story about the new program.