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Health

Joliet hospice to offer 14th annual grief camp for children

Children participate in Joliet Area Community Hospice's Children’s Day Camp in 2016. The camp is open to children who have experienced a loss. Through various activities, the children learn to process their grief.
Children participate in Joliet Area Community Hospice's Children’s Day Camp in 2016. The camp is open to children who have experienced a loss. Through various activities, the children learn to process their grief.

JOLIET – Throwing clay, shaking balls filled with glitter and writing letters are just a few of the activities put on by the Joliet Area Community Hospice (JACH) during its annual Children’s Day Camp.

The camp will be held June 19 to June 22 and helps teach coping skills to grieving children.

“It’s [camp] important because kids grieve too,” said Mary Ann Burns, the director of bereavement at JACH.

Children from the ages of seven to 13 are taught about grief and loss, and how to handle the many emotions that come with the loss of a loved one. The camp is held at Ira Jones Middle School and the C.W. Avery YMCA in Plainfield.

“Grief is all emotion, and children express it in different ways,” Burns said.

One activity children have done in the past is use the Dr. Seuss book, “My Many Colored Days” to help explain what they are feeling through their own many colored days. Colors could mean different things to different children, and it helps their parents understand what their children are feeling also.

Other experiences children have at the camp include swimming every day, building birdhouses and meditation. The last day of camp incorporates both children and their parents. They participate in a ceremony that involves releasing balloons that represent their lost loved ones.

Burns said that it’s helpful that children get to meet others going through similar situations.

“You have to give them the opportunity to share,” Burns said. “And teach them about it.”

Lessons are followed with activities that allow campers to express their feelings in ways they aren’t usually able to. Throwing a wad of clay at a wall is one way for children to get out some of their pent-up emotions. Other activities in the past have been inspired by the film “Inside Out.”

Lunch is provided everyday. This will be the 14th year of camp.

The cost of camp is $50. Scholarships are available for campers, and parents are welcome to donate to JACH as well. Registration closes June 14.

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IF YOU GO

WHAT: JACH Children’s Day Camp for children who have experienced the loss of a loved one.

WHEN: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m, June 19 to June 22, Registration closes June 14.

WHERE: Richard Ira Jones Middle School and C.W. Avery YMCA, both in Plainfield.

COST: $50. Includes lunch, snacks and supplies. Scholarships are available.

INFORMATION: Contact Mary Ann Burns, director of bereavement Services, at 815-460-3282 or mburns@joliethospice.org

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