For many years, the First Presbyterian Church of Verona has been a Rainbows for All Children site, offering peer-to-peer support for children who are grieving the loss of a family member as a result of death, separation/divorce, incarceration, deportation, deployment, significant illness, or other life-altering, traumatic events. After a multiple-year hiatus, the Rainbows program is returning to the church, facilitated by Nicole Shaw, church elder, and Liz Hathaway, Christian education facilitator of the church. Both are currently in graduate school for drama therapy and educational counseling, respectively.
Beginning in February of this year, Rainbows support groups will be offered for children in grades 1-8. Participating children will be able to share with peers in a confidential support group that allows them to see there are others going through similar experiences. Feeling less alone, they will learn problem-solving and coping skills, anger and stress management, and more effective ways to communicate their feelings. As a result, they tend to perform better academically, accrue fewer absences from school, and are less likely to engage in destructive behaviors. Please note that while these groups are being hosted by the church, the programming is secular in nature. Groups will be held on a weekly basis in person, with appropriate COVID-19 precautions in place.
“This year more than ever, it is important that children struggling with the loss of a family member have a safe place to express themselves among adults and peers who understand what they are going through,” says Liz Hathaway, one of the co-facilitators of the Rainbows site at the church. “My parents divorced when I was a teenager, I can still vividly remember how difficult it was to cope on my own. Thankfully, I had a strong support network of friends around to help me. I can only imagine how much harder it must be for children right now, in the middle of a global pandemic and a time of turmoil for our nation.”
Approximately 50 million children (over 68%) living in the United States will experience one or more of these traumatic events at some point during their childhood. Studies have shown the more adversity one experiences in childhood, the greater the likelihood of poor health outcomes in adulthood without some type of successful intervention. To learn more about Rainbows for All Children, please visit www.rainbows.org. For more information, or to join a Rainbows group at First Presbyterian Church of Verona, please fill out an interest form on the church website: veronapreschurch.org/rainbows.