The Nightingale Centre for Grieving Children, Youth, and Families celebrates International Children’s Grief Awareness Day this year as their efforts to support grieving children and families in Guelph and Wellington County is recognized with welcomed financial support from local community grant funding.
Founded in February 2019 to support families with children and youth who have experienced, or are anticipating, the death of a parent or sibling, The Nightingale Centre has seen much success in the last 22 months of operations — helping 57 grieving families receive the support they need. To further the services the Centre has offered, it has also hosted two educational events to benefit the local community, delivered training to various community organizations, and provided a week-long certificate course in partnership with SickKids Centre for Community Mental Health to professionals working with grieving children.
Recognized annually, November 19 is International Children’s Grief Awareness Day, a day designed to bring attention to the unique needs of grieving children and the benefits they receive through the support of others. With the addition of new funding from the City of Guelph Emergency Fund and the Balnar Family Foundation, this year is particularly significant for The Nightingale Centre.
“It has been so amazing to see this community step up to help these families,” said Dr. Laura Brown (photo), founder and Executive Director of The Nightingale Centre. “I think the facilitators and volunteers who run the groups and interact with the children and teenagers get as much from the experience as those going through the program. They get to see these amazing young people dealing with their grief, supporting one another, and actually having fun together. Grief can be really isolating, even more so in the midst of a pandemic. The groups give these children coping tools but also help them realize they are part of a community of other grieving families.”
When the pandemic hit in March 2020, The Nightingale Centre was successful in moving its services online to continue offering direct group support to those involved in its programming. With the shift to an online delivery method, made possible by volunteers and donor dollars, the Centre’s existing family and youth bereavement programs were able to reach a broader audience and saw a spike in enrollment numbers.
In August of this year, The Nightingale Centre received charitable status from the Canada Revenue Agency. Now, with these two significant investments, the Centre will be able to adapt their space and services to accommodate public health restrictions due to the ongoing pandemic, and hire a grief counsellor to provide individual counselling to families for whom group support is inappropriate or impossible.
The Nightingale Centre plans to continue with group programming and, with this new funding, will be able to expand its capacity to include individual counselling and adapt the services to comply with public health guidelines for infection control. “I can’t thank our donors enough. We cannot support these families without financial help. It is support that is needed, especially during these unprecedented times,” said Brown.
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