From my very first interaction with the Center for Grieving Children, I could tell this was a special place. I had the opportunity to talk to Malia Neal the new Director of Development & Communications at the Center and Jack Small, their Development & Communications Associate last week to learn more about what the Center for Grieving does and the children they serve.
The Center for Grieving Children was founded in 1995 out of a growing need to “help children grieving a death to heal and grow through their grief while strengthening families, communities and professionals’ understanding of how best to respond to their needs.” Neal explained, “Philadelphia as a city is unique and has a complex set of needs when it comes to children suffering the loss of a loved one. We’re working to bridge that gap.”
The Center works directly with school counselors to identify needs and offer free grief groups in schools throughout the city. Aside from ensuring these students are learning the skills they need to grieve in a healthy way, they also make sure students are keeping up with their education. “Schools don’t have resources to help students stay connected to school while grieving — that’s where we can help.” says Neal.
Outside of schools, the Center for Grieving Children offers community support groups across the city for children and their caregivers, as well as training for professionals who interact with these children like teachers or school counselors. “A child needs a community to help them through their grief journey, so it’s important that adults know how to respond.” Neal says.
The Center for Grieving Children is the only organization of its kind in Philadelphia, and they are currently working with over 500 kids directly with multiple groups in nearly 70 schools, and affecting even more through their training services.
When I asked how people could get involved with the Center, Neal suggested people attend their third annual Art Night, on May 4th at DNB First in Old City, hosted by their Young Professionals Board. For the event, “children will create a swing, decorated as a tribute to their experiences in memory of their loved one.” Neal explained. Attendees will have the opportunity to engage with the children and families who are grieving their loved ones and learn more about the Center and it’s mission.
For more information and to learn more about the Center for Grieving Children check out their website at: https://grievingchildren.org