This month, I thought I’d do something a bit different for my Kenzie's Gift blog - a bit of a reflection on the year so far.
Kenzie's Gift is my life's passion. I do have other jobs which I enjoy and are a necessity in a single-headed household with bills to pay (something I think we can all relate to!). But Kenzie's Gift is what fills my mind in evenings and weekends, with thoughts of what can we be doing better. What can we be offering more of to help Kiwi kids and their whānau facing serious illness or grief, and how do we find the resourcing to do it?
The answer to some of these questions is finding other like-minded, dedicated, passionate people who bring the right skill set, knowledge and professional insights to help us deliver our visions and aspirations. We’ve been fortunate to grow the team at Kenzie's Gift to help us on that journey, both at the Board level and within the team.
At the start of the year, we had a sit-down about what we could offer alongside our one-on-one therapy support, grief and cancer kits, and online resources.
A couple of things came up for starters:
• A bereaved parents’ support group.
• A teacher’s resource for supporting bereaved students.
• A telehealth support line.
The team has been hard at work focusing on these three initiatives and so far, we’ve ticked off the top two in just three months!
Our bereaved parents’ support group, The Unthinkables, was launched at the end of February. The name came about after years of conversations with other parents saying to me, 'That's just unthinkable, losing a child.' So it is in that context of the unthinkable that happened to us as parents, losing a child.
I feel so honoured and privileged to be meeting and sharing experiences with other parents who are living this life without their precious cherub. Our children have died at different ages, some as babies, toddlers, school-age, teens or adults. The pain of their death is the same regardless of the age they died. As parents, we will feel that parental grief deep in our souls. Thank you all for reaching out and joining us.
Our second initiative was to develop a teacher's resource for supporting bereaved students.
Death is really difficult to talk about, especially at kura (school). Sadly, at some point, most teachers may find their kura community will be affected by death in one way or another. It could be the death of a student’s family or whānau member, carer or friend. Or it could be the death of an ākonga (student), staff member or loved member of the kura community, like a parent helper.
Also, news travels fast to tamariki and mātātahi these days. Tragic national and worldwide events, like the COVID-19 pandemic and the Christchurch terrorist attack, can prompt questions about death and dying.
Tamariki might look to their teachers and schools, as well as their parents and communities, to help them make sense of what’s happened, even if they’re not directly affected by it. That's why we developed a downloadable resource to help teachers support their students.
This resource will be available for download on our website when schools return after the Easter break. If you’re interested in receiving a copy, get in touch.
Once that’s live, we’ll have one more key deliverable: a telehealth support line.
In discussions with families and therapists, this is a service that’s been spoken about a lot. A support line would provide advice and guidance in dealing with the tough stuff and helping our tamariki. This is definitely an initiative we’re working towards this year, and hopefully when it comes to my mid-year reflection, I’ll have a positive progress report for you.
The team and I here at Kenzie's Gift are always looking for your ideas and feedback: what services, support and information you would like to see and what would be helpful and beneficial.
Please do email me your thoughts and suggestions. I can be contacted on: email@example.com.