Supportive relationships help youth develop coping skills
Grief is an all too familiar experience for many of the young people we serve. Nearly 1 in 20 children in the U.S. will lose a parent before the age of 16, and the vast majority of children will experience the loss of a family member or friend by the time they complete high school. According to a recent survey conducted by the New York Life Foundation:
- Childhood bereavement has enduring impact, but support is short-lived: Americans who lost a parent growing up say it takes six-plus years to move forward, but support wanes within the first three months
- Public dialogue around loss is growing, but 63% of Americans still avoid grief conversations out of worry over saying the wrong thing
- 58% of Americans say social media has helped them express condolences to people they otherwise wouldn’t have, but many grievers prefer more personal forms of communication
- Many Americans don’t know where to turn for grief resources, but access to resources and ongoing support can help build resiliency in the face of loss
The New York Life Foundation has partnered with Boys & Girls Clubs of America to help Clubs provide a supportive environment for grieving children and their families and help build the skills they need to thrive. Clubs have a unique opportunity to create environments where youth who are grieving can build meaningful, supportive relationships and develop the skills they need to cope with grief and loss. The Be There initiative provides trainings, resources and strategies that increase Club’s capacity to support youth who are grieving and helps Clubs develop strong, supportive relationships among four focus areas: youth, staff, families and community.
How we’re helping
A three-hour session, Be There: Helping Grieving Youth, trains Club staff on how to help grieving youth. Staff learn about the impact of grief on the lives of youth, recognize common reactions to grief, and identify appropriate resources to support youth experiencing loss.
Online training and community partnerships:
Through our national partnership with The National Alliance for Grieving Children, we are able to connect Clubs to local grief support providers in their area. NAGC has also developed four Be There podcasts and discussion guides to support Clubs in building capacity to serve grieving youth.
The American Counseling Association has developed a podcast to provide additional training and support for staff.
Other national partners that contribute to our work in supporting grieving youth include The Moyer Foundation, Funeral Service Foundation and the Coalition to Support Grieving Students.
Strategies and resources:
Our Be There Toolkit includes useful resources and links to help Clubs support grieving youth and families.
Additionally, the American Counseling Association provides tips for mentoring youth dealing with disasters and traumas.
Ready, Set, Action
BGCA partners with The PEAR Institute to provide a social emotional resiliency building program to youth. Ready, Set, Action promotes the development of five key interrelated sets of cognitive, affective and behavioral competencies. Ready, Set, Action teaches emotional awareness and regulation techniques youth may draw upon when faced with hardship, including grief and loss.