Lory’s Place continues to grow our School Outreach Program. Since its inception in 2005, the program has expanded from one school working with 12 participants to 43 elementary, middle, and high schools working with 660 students.
Grieving students in school districts stretching from the Michigan state line to northern Van Buren County can connect in peer support groups located at their own schools. The one-hour meetings are held once per month, and are open to those who have suffered the loss of a family member or friend. All groups are open-ended, allowing the students to begin and end a group when they feel they are ready.
Groups engage in conversation and age-appropriate activities in a safe, supportive environment in which the participants are able to explore their feelings and experiences of grief. Many educational pieces are used to aid in the development of coping skills and strategies. “Tasks of Grief,” “Teen Grief Rights,” and “Holiday Coping Ideas” are some of the topics that are discussed throughout the school year.
As the groups evolve and change members during the year, they remain interconnected and provide healing for the participants. When asked, “What does it mean to you to have a group meet at your school?” one student responded with, “It means that somebody out there in the world cares, knows what you are going through, and wants to help you through the pain. Thank you for coming to our school.”
Jim Wilson, Family Services Coordinator at Lory’s Place, has witnessed firsthand significant changes in students who’ve participated in the School Outreach Program. Students who were once unable to talk about someone they’ve lost to death are able to make strides in a group setting, often following the lead of other students after a particularly meaningful group activity.
“I’ve witnessed participants’ hesitancy to share when they are first attending, and not saying anything for several groups,” Jim said. “It is my experience, as trust is developed, that they are more willing to share all aspects of their story and are open to gaining the tools they need to find their new normal.”
For more information about the Lory’s Place School Outreach Program please visit www.lorysplace.org or call (269) 983-2707