TWIN FALLS, Idaho — From April 23 through May 7, you have a chance to choose from more than 600 nonprofits across Idaho to support through the annual Idaho Gives fundraiser. That includes organizations in the Magic Valley like Because Kids Grieve.
Because Kids Grieve started nearly two decades ago under the name Kids Count Too! as a collaboration between four hospices after recognizing a gap in bereavement services for children and teenagers. Because Kids Grieve is open to children ages 6 to 17 as that group typically experiences grief between those years or for a loss they lived through when they were younger.
"When those children get to the age of six, most likely, they will--in many cases, they will experience grief for the loss that they lived through when they were two years old or something," explained Mike Seward, President of Because Kids Grieve.
Seward, also a minister, joined Because Kids Grieve before it existed as a formal organization and became a nonprofit. He says the group is seeing a major need for the services across the entire state.
"We use an instrument that was created in Colorado by some psychologists called the Childhood Bereavement Estimation Model, and in it, you can actually see how many students it estimates will experience a significant loss in this age frame that we're talking about. We did that with the state of Idaho, used that instrument. It estimates that at any one given moment there's 27,000 students that are living through a grief experience, and in fact in Idaho, it's one in every 15 students, there's probably one of them that is living through a time of grief because of significant loss," said Seward.
Because Kids Grieve offers several programs to help children. That includes day camps for each season of the year, a summer overnight camp, educational and counseling resources for the community, and connecting families with members of the bereavement community. Kids 2 Kids Grief Groups are also available.
Every child at Because Kids Grieve is paired with an adult "buddy" who will help provide a safe space for children to mourn and share their thoughts and feelings about loss. Mentors undergo training and background checks each year. While events are not counseling sessions, many of the mentors are counselors, social workers, hospice nurses, and chaplains.
"Our volunteers largely ask questions trying to give space for the kids to respond in their grief," said Seward.
The Grief Groups act as support groups for children where adults may facilitate the meeting to encourage discussion. The day camps can include activities like archery sessions, creating art, or a visit to a garden to help children know it's ok to have fun and enjoy normal activities during their period of grieving.
Through a donation from Glanbia last September, Because Kids Grieve was able to purchase its first grief center in the Magic Valley to host groups and activities. Now, the focus is trying to expand the resources and offering services to the Treasure Valley--all at no cost for families.
"Everything we do is grant-driven, donation-driven, sponsorships. We've had some corporations that have been significant with us in terms of support so that we can offer everything we do absolutely free. Nobody pays anything. All of our volunteers are volunteers, and so the overhead costs, we keep to a minimum," said Seward. "We're trying to get this out across the state and offer more, and we have people just really requesting that we offer more. There's a real need for it."
Because Kids Grieve has a set a donation goal of $5,000 for this year's Idaho Gives. To donate directly, click here.