Thursday, January 20, 2011

Community coming together for Children's Day

Those participating in the Day of Healing for Tucson's children include:

• Rabbi Stephanie Aaron, Congregation Chaverim, Tucson.

• Most Rev. Gerald F. Kicanas, D.D., Roman Catholic Bishop of Tucson, will share a story and talk with children at the opening session at 3 pm.

United Methodist Bishop Minerva G. CarcaƱo (Arizona) will speak to children at the opening session from 3 pm to 3:25 pm.

Tu Nidito, will offer talking circles for children ages 5 to 9 and 10 to 12. In addition Tu Nidito will offer two workshops for parents to equip them to help their children deal with grief, trauma, and questions about death. The workshops will be offered at 3:30 and 4 pm.

• Artist Linda Cato, art educator at Imago Dei Middle School will host a mural making station for kids to image the kind of world they want to help create.

• Musician Bruce Phillips, children's musician at St. Philips in the Hills Episcopal church will lead sing-a-long music sessions from 3:30 to 4:30 pm

Ben's Bells, will offer children a chance to help create bells to distribute around Tucson to spread kindness across our community.

• Trained pet therapy dogs with Rev. Anne Strong, deacon at St. Philips Episcopal church will be in the outside courtyard.

• Mothers from the MISS Foundation will assist with the pet therapy dogs and be available to talk with parents and children.

• Beads of Courage will give children the opportunity to make a special strand of beads as they think about what it means to live with hope, courage, and love.

• Religious leaders from Jewish, Sikh, and Christian traditions will be available to pray and talk with children and families.

Special thanks to Flam Chen for sharing supplies to create the peace tent, and to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and Grand Canyon Lutheran Synod for support.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Resources from Community Partnership for Southern Arizona

Resources For Coping with Loss and Trauma

The information below is from Community Partnership for Southern Arizona's website. These and other resources can be accessed online here:

Self Help
Health Professionals Helping Children and Teens
Behavioral Health Crisis SystemCPSA’s established behavioral health crisis system also continues to be available to anyone in Pima County:
  • Community-Wide Crisis Line: 520-622-6000 or 1-800-796-6762. Available 24/7 for anyone having a behavioral health crisis. Hearing impaired individuals may call the Crisis TTY Line at 520-284-3500 or 1-888-248-5998.

  • Walk-in behavioral health crisis services: SAMHC, 2502 N. Dodge Blvd. (enter from Flower Street, which is parallel with and just north of Grant Road). If possible, please call the Community-Wide Crisis Line (520-622-6000 or 1-800-796-6762) before going to SAMHC.
Support GroupsIn response to community requests, Community Partnership of Southern Arizona (CPSA) is organizing walk-in support groups for individuals who are struggling with their reaction to the January 8 mass shooting.

The groups will be led by professionals trained in helping others deal with loss and trauma.
No registration is needed. 
Where: CPSA Training Center/Plaza Arboleda, 2502 N. Dodge Blvd., on the east side of Dodge just north of Grant Road.
  • 5:30 pm– 7:30 pm Tuesday, January 18
  • 6 pm – 8 pm Thursday, January 20
  • 10 am – noon Saturday, January 22

    See for listings of other community events and mental health services related to the Jan 8 shootings.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Supporting kids during tragedy

Following are some guidelines for talking with children about tragedy from, a resource for leaders in Christian faith traditions. It was written by Tracey E. Herzer.

• First and foremost, children need to be reassured that they are safe.
They often experience anxiety, fear and a personal sense of risk. Limit television viewing for younger children, especially those of preschool age. It is very difficult for young children to process images and messages in news reports. Let children know that tragic events are not our everyday experience and that the adults who love them will always try to take care of them. (ie – “I know you are scared. I am too. It’s a scary thing that happened, but I love you and I will always do my very best to make sure that you are safe.”)

• Just like adults, children will have varied reactions to what they hear.
They may ask lots of questions, cling to parents or exhibit other behavior of younger children, have stomachaches or headaches, or may have difficulty sleeping or have nightmares. Older children and adolescents may make inappropriate jokes or glib comments and may direct their anger and frustration at other seemingly unconnected situations. All of these are various ways of dealing with tragedy. Expect and give permission for a wide range of reactions. It is important to validate your child’s feelings and not try to explain why they should feel another way. Many children will need more physical affection and one-on-one time with parents.

• The best plan for discussion is to talk honestly, but without a lot of graphic detail. Be gently concrete and truthful when answering questions. Be careful of using euphemisms for death such as the people “passed” or “went to sleep” or “went away”. These can send scary messages to younger children who wonder if they might go to sleep and not wake up or if their parents will go away forever.

• Be aware of where your child is developmentally. Preschool children may see death as reversible, temporary or impersonal. Children between ages 5-9 are beginning to realize that death is permanent but may still think they could escape through their own ingenuity or efforts. From age 9 or 10 through adolescence, children begin comprehending fully that death is irreversible, that all living things die, and that they too will die someday.

• Reinforce your family’s values. This is a good time to talk about what your family believes about the sanctity of life and helping others. Reiterate your position as a person of faith and don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know why this happened” or “I just don’t know how to answer that.” Also be aware some religious explanations that comfort adults may unsettle a child. For example, “It is God’s will” or “Those people are with God now” could be frightening rather than reassuring to the young child who may worry that God might decide to come get them. Assure them God loves us all and is present with all of us as we struggle to understand.

• If they don’t want to talk, give them other options. If your child doesn’t want to talk much about the incidents and you suspect they may be worrying about things they can’t articulate, you may want to ask them to draw pictures or talk about what feelings they think other people might be having. This gives the child an opportunity to gain some distance to what they themselves are feeling. If your child doesn’t want to talk about the events at all, they may not need to talk and you might just take a walk with them or read them a book or give them a hug to let them know you care.

• Remind children of safety procedures. Talk about measures that are already in place, such as police, fireman, policies at school for dealing with danger, etc. Talk with them about safety plans that might make them feel more comfortable. Keep talking with them even after the media coverage subsides.

• Keep your schedule normal. In as much as it is possible, try to continue with family routines such as dinnertime or bedtime rituals. Children (and adults) can often find some comfort by connecting with some sense of normalcy, even in the midst of chaos and fear.

• Find a way to participate in rebuilding or reconciliation. Times of tragedy bring out both the worst and the best in people. Help your children by making a conscious choice to take part in caring for others and helping where you can. Have a family bake sale or yard sale and contribute all money to an agency that is trying to help. Help your children write letters to other children who were affected. Donate clothes, toys, food, etc. to rebuilding efforts. Doing something concrete helps us feel like we are part of the solution and it a definitive statement of hope and rebirth.

When we respond to tragedy, our feelings may be intense and varied. Give your children and yourself some time to adjust. There are no magic words, no “right answer” – just be with your children and talk with them. Remember that there are people available to help you – your school counselors, as well as community agencies and professional counselors who are specially trained to deal with situations like this; and there are many priests, ministers and lay people who can be of tremendous help and comfort in a time of tragedy.

© 2010, Tracey E. Herzer, Leader Resources

Talking to Your Children about Tragedy

Tucson's Tu Nidito offers support for children who are grieving. This post below is from their website. Staff from Tu Nidito will be part of Sunday's Day of Healing for Tucson's children. Tu Nidito is also offering grief support groups for children who are grieving the deaths of the shooting victims. They are also available to offer education and support to schools and teachers to help children deal with their emotions and reactions to the shootings.

When tragedy strikes a close-knit community such as Tucson, the effects are endless. As a community, we mourn the loss of those killed and try to understand why. One often over-looked group is the children within a community who struggle to cope when something like this occurs. Parents may have difficulty explaining what has happened to their children.

Tu Nidito Children and Family Services, Southern Arizona’s “little nest” for children whose lives have been impacted by the death of a loved one or a serious medical condition, offers these tips to parents:
  1. React Carefully. Children observe the way that their parents handle situations. Feel free to share some of your feelings, and let them know that they can share theirs too. If you react with overwhelming fear and sadness, your children might become even more afraid.

  2. Encourage your child to ask questions and be as open and honest as possible. Your child may be feeling confused and unsafe. He or she might feel afraid that the event will happen again or happen to someone that they know. Use your child's own language to explain feelings and validate what they express and are experiencing.

  3. Volunteer or find ways to help. Give your child a sense of security by allowing them to make a difference in the lives of others.

  4. Tune out the media. While it may be tempting to stay up-to-date with the latest developments, try to avoid watching when your children are in the room. Violent imagery, descriptions, and constant replaying and retelling of the story might upset your child, adding to their fear.

  5. Find other outlets for your children to express themselves. This is especially helpful if your child is too young to put what they are feeling into words. Encourage drawing, painting, or playtime to allow them to show how they feel.

  6. Try to get back into a routine. Do not feel as though you should ignore what has happened, but try to stay to your normal schedule including bath, dinner and bed time.

  7. Find a special way to commemorate those who have died. Attend a memorial or light a candle and explain to your child what those actions mean.

  8. Let your child know that they can ask you anything at any time, whether it is in a day, a week, a month, or a year. Tragedy might spark your child’s thoughts on death and they may have questions down the road.

  9. Reassure your child. Sometimes, children ask questions that you might not know the answer to. Try to reassure them that you do everything you can to keep them safe.
  10. If you need additional support, please call Tu Nidito at 520.322.9155. We can refer you to the appropriate resources for help dealing with traumatic events and grief.
All of Tu Nidito’s services are provided at no cost to the families who need them. All of those affected by the tragedy or any death loss should contact Tu Nidito at 520.322.9155.

Supporting kids in hard times

Tucson's paper, the Arizona Daily Star, ran a Sunday editorial focused on kids in light of the shootings last week.

They quoted the late Fred Rogers on ways to help kids through tragedy.

• "We adults must do all we can to act like adults and not to give in to the fear."

• "It's all right to be angry, but it's not all right to hurt other people. It's a very strong message, but our children and the children of the world need to be able to grow up with that."

•  "Tell them, we're going to take care of you, and no matter what, we're in this together."

You can read the whole editorial here. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Day of Healing for Tucson's Children

Offered for Tucson’s children and their families by clergy, musicians, artists, counselors, educators, and leaders from a variety of faith traditions and community organizations.

Sunday, January 23, 2010
3 pm to 5 pm 

Focus is for children ages 5 to 12, but families with children older and younger are encouraged to attend together.

Children and their families will have a safe space to express feelings, receive support for navigating grief and trauma, and turn despair and fear into acts of love, kindness, and compassion.

A short multifaith service for children and their families will begin and end the afternoon. Children will have an opportunity to create a piece of communal art for the community, sing, hear stories, be part of small group storytelling about their own feelings, pet animals, and climb inside a "peace tent."