The Caring Corner: Kidzcope Helps Families with Grief
"The Caring Corner" is a monthly feature on a local charity.
In 1789, Benjamin Franklin famously wrote that in life there are only two certainties: death and taxes. For many, the first of those things can be very difficult. Fortunately for Wichitans, Kidzcope exists to help children and their families navigate that stage of life a little easier.
Kidzcope, the only children’s bereavement center in southern Kansas, has been dedicated to giving hope to grieving children and their families since 2000. Through their various peer support programs, children ages three through 18 and their caregivers navigate their grief and learn lifelong coping skills through expressive art and discussion-based activities led by trained, volunteer facilitators.
Kidzcope is a local non-profit and non-affiliated organization that is designed to provide support for families who are suffering the loss of a loved one. By fostering a safe environment and providing age specific peer support groups, Kidzcope creates a safe space to learn lifelong coping skills.
“The magic of Kidzcope is created through human connection by providing a safe, inviting atmosphere to encourage people to express themselves,” says Cathleen Ramirez, Kidzcope’s Program Coordinator. “The loss of a loved one can be extremely painful and difficult to navigate, so we encourage people to find comfort through a variety of expressive activities.”
How it Started
The organization’s roots dates back to the late 1990s when a local family was in need of grief support that was not available in the Wichita community. That need became a grass roots movement in 1999 and then in 2000, Three Trees was born to offer local peer-support groups modeled loosely off of Solace House in Kansas City. Later, in 2001, Three Trees would go on to be selected as a community project by Junior League of Wichita.
Everything changed in 2008, when the offices that housed Three Trees suffered a fire, forcing the agency to temporarily operate out of donated space. By 2010, with the organization now in a new space, the Board of Directors voted to officially change the name to Kidzcope, choosing to rebrand in an effort to better communicate their mission to help grieving families.
Focus on the Community
Today, Kidzcope is still affecting positive change in the community, centering their efforts around a model that relies heavily on volunteers. “Being a volunteer based organization is really central to what we do here, “says Ramirez. “It really opens up the groups to a sharing of experiences and allows us to continue offering support to families free of charge.”
Those who serve as a volunteer have an opportunity to lead support group as facilitators for “Mending Lives”, which is a comprehensive 9-week program that provides families a safe place to grieve and helps them develop coping skills. Volunteers can come from all walks of life and from any profession. Training is provided and there are numerous ways to volunteer that include facilitating a grief support group, serving as a host for support groups, or helping at Kidzcope events and fundraisers.
In addition to the volunteers, Kidzcope continues a partnership with Wichita State, Friends University, and Newman University. This partnership benefits the students by providing them with direct client contact hours to complete their respective Master’s programs.
“An organization like Kidzcope affects our community in the most foundational of ways,” says Ramirez. “Life and death are things that affect everyone, and we are able to provide a targeted approach that everyone can relate to regardless of their background or circumstances.”
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