Rainbows Grief Support Program
Each year, roughly 300 students struggle with the emotional suffering caused by the divorce or long-term separation of their parents, the death of a loved one, or any number of other life-altering crises. Since the mid-1980s, District 15 has worked with the Rainbows International Grief Support Organization for Children to provide a 12-week
program that offers these students the guidance and compassion they need to prevent such losses from defining their lives.
Foundation funds training for grief program’s facilitators
Each year, many District 15 students struggle with the emotional suffering caused by the divorce or long-term separation of their parents, the death of a loved one, or any number of other life-altering crises. While children are resilient, many need help to bounce back.
Since the mid-1980s, District 15 has worked with the Rolling Meadows-based Rainbows International Grief Support Organization for Children to provide the guidance and compassion needed to prevent such a loss from defining students’ lives. In 2010, the District Fifteen Educational Foundation has joined them by funding the training of 31 Rainbows program facilitators throughout the District.
Roughly 300 students a year are referred to the District’s Rainbows program either by their parents or District staff members who believe they could benefit from the program. Parental consent is required for a student to participate in Rainbows, and in some cases students embrace it so well and benefit from it so much that they continue to participate even after they complete the 12-week program.
“Rainbows really provides children an emotional safety net that helps them,” said Paul Budin, District 15’s social work services coordinator. “It helps them academically, as well. More and more research is showing that if a child is not feeling good socially and emotionally about themselves, that does have a real and long-term impact on academic performance.
”Rainbows is offered at four age-appropriate levels, and it is delivered in a support group setting, which can have a tremendous impact on the students.
“Children tend to be very egocentric. They often think there’s nobody else in the world that feels the way that they do because their parents are apart,” Mr. Budin said. “But then they walk into a Rainbows group, they hear everybody else’s stories, and they realize they aren’t alone.
”While large-group activities are a big part of the program, each student who participates in Rainbows also receives a workbook, and they are encouraged to share what they write in their workbooks with their parents. This family communication is a significant way to empower children to better cope with the feelings associated with separation and loss.
During large-group discussions and assorted workbook activities, the trained Rainbows facilitators take students through some of the common situations, emotions, and struggles they may encounter as they deal with their loss.
“Children dealing with a loss need someone they can trust to offer guidance as they progress through the stages of grief,” Mr. Budin said. “Through the training that the Foundation is funding, these new, volunteer Rainbows facilitators will be able to hone the skills they’ll need to appropriately offer them that support and understanding. Their compassion and empathy—their willingness to listen and become a significant figure in their students’ lives—will help these hurting children and their families move forward and find happiness and contentment in their new family constellations.”