The Heartland Youth Centre is hosting a pair of programs to help youth and their parents navigate through loss, grief and transition. (Kevin Sabo/Stettler Independent)

The Heartland Youth Centre is hosting a pair of programs to help youth and their parents navigate through loss, grief and transition. (Kevin Sabo/Stettler Independent)

Long-standing youth program returning to Stettler area schools in December

The program is looking for volunteer co-facilitators

A program aimed at helping youth through loss, transition, or tragedy is making a return to the Stettler area in December.

The Rainbows Program will be starting up sometime in mid-December according to coordinator Christel Shuckburgh.

So far around 50 kids have signed up to be part of the 12-week program which is designed to help them navigate through parental loss, divorce, or other major transition such as moving to a new community.

“It’s the largest group we have ever seen,” said Shuckburgh.

The program will be offered by trained facilitators at both Christ King Catholic School and Stettler Elementary School.

Groups will max out at eight kids and they will be a safe space for kids to talk about their feelings, says Shuckburgh. Another big part of the program will be the discussion surrounding confidentiality.

“We want to make the kids feel safe,” said Shuckburgh.

“You can share your experience, but never share other people’s.”

The 12-week program is guided, with workbooks and other materials provided by the facilitator. Each of the sessions in the 12-weeks will have a different focus, from the individuality of the students to dealing with anger and grief.

At the end of the 12-weeks a “Celebrate Me” activity and meal will be held to bring the youth, facilitators and parents together to celebrate everything accomplished in the program.

The program has been offered to all the Stettler County schools but there has not been enough interest in bringing the program to them this school year, so it will only run at the two in-town schools.

Shuckburgh says that while the program is set for trained facilitators, there is a need for co-facilitators for the groups. Co-facilitators do not need to be trained and will work in conjunction with a trained volunteer.

According to Shuckburgh, there is two goals to the program.

First, it is letting kids know they are not alone even when they are stressed or grieving.

Second, the program is designed to help the kids process their feelings.

However, parents aren’t being left out of the equation.

Beginning in January, the Heartland Youth Center will be launch the Prism Program, which will run for six-weeks.

The Prism Program will cover the same topics as the Rainbows Program, but at an accelerated rate with the topics geared for adults.

Like in Rainbows, confidentiality and support will be the prime objectives of the parent group.

The Rainbows Program is being offered at no charge to Stettler area students, though the Heartland Youth Center does ask that families involved do become members.

For more information, contact Shuckburgh at the Heartland Youth Center at 403-742-5437.

As the program is not starting until later in December, there is still time for youth to be registered.

Once the program starts, the groups will be locked for the duration with no new people joining late.

One parent, whose name is withheld for confidentiality reasons, says: “My son has been in the rainbows program for the last 3 years now. In his little life so far we have overcome a lot of challenges life has thrown our way. From being a single mom in the beginning, to a failed relationship, to death in the family that was very dear to us. Rainbows has given my son ways of coping with all of these events.”

The Heartland Youth Centre has run the program in the community since 2002, though its roots go beyond with another group running it before that.

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