Registration is open for the Healing Kids’ Hearts Retreat for children who have lost a loved one.
The free event for children ages 6 to 12 will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 23, at the Hays Senior Center, 2450 E. Eighth St. Lunch will be included at no cost.
The retreat is sponsored by the Center for Life Experience in Hays. The center is one of the few organizations in Western Kansas that provides grief support services for children.
Laura Allen, executive director of the center, said children do not process grief the same way that adults do.
“The day’s activities will provide children a safe and confidential environment to learn about healthy grief and loss in responding to the death of a loved one,” she said.
For most participating children, that loved one is a parent or grandparent, but sometimes the child has lost a beloved teacher or special friend. Children who have attended in the past are welcome to attend again, she said.
“Led by trained volunteers, this retreat offers a variety of activities through which children learn that there are multiple ways to grieve. They will learn positive ways to honor the person who has died and create lasting memories that can provide comfort,” Allen said.
Among the planned activities are creating special keepsakes, drawing and writing, a balloon launch, and more.
Each child is matched with a trained adult “buddy,” who helps guide and support the child throughout the day, she said.
Registration is also open for adult volunteers to help at the retreat. All volunteers will go through a background check and will be expected to attend a training session, Allen said.
Registration for both children and volunteers is available by calling Allen at (785) 259-6859 or by emailing [email protected]. Since spaces are limited, she urged parents to register their children as soon as possible.
The Center for Life Experience also provides grief support groups and activities for adults. Information about those is available by contacting Allen at the above number. The center is located at 103C E. 27th St. in Hays.