Course offers comfort

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A service helping children cope with grief and loss is being offered in Oamaru.
The Oceans Programme is available to children aged 5 to 15.
It has been running in Timaru since 2011 under the auspices of Anglican Care South Canterbury.
Ministry of Social Development social worker in schools Peggy Waite is responsible for its expansion to Oamaru, having noted how many young parents have died here in the last two years. That had left a lot of children struggling with their feelings, she said.
Separations and divorces could also result in difficulties for children, Mrs Waite said.
She asked Oceans Programme Timaru co-ordinator Matt Cameron to visit and look into establishing the service here.
“It snowballed from there.”Anglican Care Otago has now agreed to underwrite the Oamaru initiative. It has employed Mrs Waite for one day a week as co-ordinator and two facilitators, Maria Johnson and Gillian Lynch, have been trained to deliver the programme.
A pilot course has just been completed, guiding a group of children through a series of one-hour weekly sessions on topics including coping with grief feelings, telling their story and listening to others’, memories, changes, identifying their own strengths, looking ahead, and celebrating.
The children also have a folder of items to take away with them.
Oceans was based on a therapeutic model called “Continuing Bonds”. It could help children experiencing loss or separation, those who have never really mourned a lost person, those who feel they have lost the love of someone and those who live with a foster family and miss their birth parents.
Mrs Waite said the courses were usually arranged in age-groups. She hoped to run two in the next school term, and was keen to hear from anyone interested in training as a facilitator.
People wanting to discuss the service can phone Mrs Waite on 020 459-6900 or email oceans.oamaru@familycare.org.nzom22oceans1