St Joseph's School in Beechworth offers helping hand for kids going through grief with 'Seasons' program

RESILIENCE: Irene Sharp, who has run the Seasons program since the 90s, and St Joseph's principal Kitty Hancock. Picture: JAMES WILTSHIRE

RESILIENCE: Irene Sharp, who has run the Seasons program since the 90s, and St Joseph's principal Kitty Hancock. Picture: JAMES WILTSHIRE

AT one point or another in life, everybody goes through loss.

Whether it be the death of a friend or a loved one, the separation of a family or even moving homes and communities, loss is loss – and it hurts.

St Joseph's School in Beechworth has recognized this, once again running their ‘Seasons’  program to assist students who are experiencing loss.

The voluntary group program allows students to talk about what is happening in a safe environment, principal Kitty Hancock said.

“The main thing behind everything we do as a school is the wellbeing of our children and our families,” she said.

“Therefore, when things are going wrong for families, children may wish to participate in this program.

“It gives the kids a safe place to talk about how they’re feeling.

“It's a non-compulsory program, and we try to run it whenever there is a need to.

“Parents can ask for it, it's not a fixed program we run every term or at a certain time of year.”

The grieving process is like the seasons of the year, Seasons companion and St Josephs teacher’s aide Irene Sharp said.

Mrs Sharp has been involved with the program, which is run by not-for-profit group Good Grief, since its inception in the mid-1990s.

“The program is all about the belief that change and loss is a part of life, and that grief is a normal response to that,” she said.

“There is emphasis on understanding change and helping the children who take part in the program with decision-making and problem-solving, helping build confidence, self-esteem and help them connect with others.” 

Mrs Sharp is about to commence a new program, and said the group nature of the program helped the children better express themselves.

“Sometimes it can be hard for kids to talk to their parents,” she said.

“If their parents are separating, for example, and think it’s their fault, or they might not want to upset their parents by talking about someone who has died.

“If they keep all that inside it’s not good, so the program develops ways to use that emotion.

“The kids are marvelous when they do it, they take it really seriously.

“They can talk a lot through drawing, they reflect and respond.

“It’s all do do with the seasons and how things are always changing.

“Winter can often seem dark and miserable, but summer is always around the corner.” 

Good Grief and the Seasons program were developed by the Sisters of St Joseph in the mid-1990s and has been used by over 200,000 children and adults since it began.

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