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Bluegrass Care Navigators takes Camp Hope, a bereavement program for kids, virtual and it worked

BlueGrass Care Navigators had to adjust its Camp Hope sessions this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. But the creative bereavement counselors — and the kids — adapted in ways that made the virtual camp a success.

Camp Hope was held virtually in October to help children cope with the grief of losing a loved one in a safe and positive setting. While this was a new experience for our young participants and our seasoned bereavement counselors and staff, it was one that was truly impactful for the kids and their parents.

“Camp Hope was a huge success this year,” says Holly Bender, bereavement counselor. “With the combined efforts of our Integrative Medicine team, bereavement counselors and social workers from Northern Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky, Frankfort and Lexington offices, we were able to provide this opportunity to 24 children and teens and eight parents from all over the state.

The kids had a hybrid camp experience that combined hands-on activities with online counseling. Each child received age-appropriate craft activities, books, and other materials delivered to their home.

Virtual counseling sessions were held in small groups, arranged by age, to encourage dialogue and healing interaction. They also held separate counseling sessions with guardians to provide them tools and information they need to support the grieving children over the long term.

Participants enjoyed activities, such as:

• Creating a picture frame to hold a photo of their loved one;

• Using sketch pads to depict some of their feelings;

• Painting masks to show the feelings they keep to themselves and those they show others;

• Using bubbles to learn deep breathing exercises;

• Using integrative medicine therapies – music, art, mindfulness – as coping strategies The children were able to share their personal stories in a safe environment, support their peers who have similar experiences, and receive guidance from counselors on effective strategies for coping with loss.

Bluegrass Care Navigators will offer the virtual Camp Hope each Tuesday in January 2021 from 5–6 p.m.

For more information or to register, please call 859.277.2700.

The Camp Hope Children’s Bereavement Program was able to host the virtual camps thanks to a grant from Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky (TMMK) and the support of other sponsors including Walmart Palomar (Lexington), Walmart Hazard and Partners for Youth.

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