Many people associate the word “hospice” with the elderly who have a shortened life expectancy. While true in part, “hospice” is actually a philosophy that believes in caring for the whole person, including families and children.
For 17 years, Ogeechee Area Hospice has hosted Camp Lily Welle, a day camp that aims to teach children healthy ways to cope with strong emotions and feelings of grief and loss.
Many times after the death of a loved one, other family members are shaken by their own grief and are unavailable physically and emotionally to children. Also, because children exhibit grief differently than adults, their signs of grieving may not be as easily noticed by others around them.
Preschool children usually see death as temporary. Children between ages 5 and 9 begin to think more like adults about death, yet they still distance themselves from the reality of it. Once children accept the death, they are likely to display their feelings of sadness on and off over a long period of time.
Camp Lily Welle incorporates art and music therapy, pet and clown therapy, crafts, story time and videos as ways to give children emotional activities and outlets in which to express their feelings. In addition, there are trained counselors and social workers on hand to help work through any difficult periods.
“We try to give the children skills that they can use in their own personal grieving process, yet let them have lots of fun along the way,” said Tammy Horton, Ogeechee Area Hospice bereavement planner.
The 2013 camp date is set for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 4, at Statesboro First Baptist Church. Lunch and snacks will be provided. Camp Lily Welle is open to all children in the community ages 6-12 who have experienced a loss of any kind and is a free service thanks to community support.
For more information about Camp Lily Welle or talking to a child about a loved one’s death, call Horton at (912) 764-8441.