Amy, her mom and sister signed up for Rainbows after their family’s divorce. During their initial meeting at Ozaukee Family Services, she was very quiet. Her mom said that Amy was doing poorly in school even though she had been a good student in the past, and she was isolating in her room. She seemed sad and quiet. During their meeting, the Rainbows Coordinator told Amy about how children in the program are grouped by age and the type of loss they had experienced. She also reviewed the topics that would be covered: talking about feelings, finding positive ways to deal with anger, and understanding fears and worries. At the end of the registration session, Amy looked up with her big brown eyes and asked, “Do you know if there are any other kids signed up who are dealing with an alcoholic parent?”
How we wish that an 8-year old would never have to ask such a question! But the reality is that last year, OFS saw a large increase in the number of families dealing with alcohol or drug abuse including moms, dads and grandparents as well. Amy and her family attended each of the bi-monthly sessions from October to April. Each week, her group seemed to enjoy the activities – a volcano experiment to demonstrate anger and how to talk about it, shining a flashlight on fears, and reaching out to others by making a pizza and sharing it with another group. Amy even made some new friends who were dealing with similar issues along the way.
At the end of the program, Amy’s mom reported that her daughter had made much progress as a result of her participation in Rainbows. Specifically, her grades were much improved, and she had begun communicating more effectively within her family. Amy was managing her anger better and seemed to be gaining confidence and self-esteem. On her program survey, Amy’s mom wrote, “I highly recommend this program. The kids need it, and it is great help for the parents too!”
One of Amy’s facilitators noted that she had improved her social skills. In the beginning of Rainbows, she stuck tightly to the adult facilitators and spent little time interacting with peers. Toward the end, she was much more engaged with the other girls in her group. The facilitator also noted that Rainbows gave Amy an opportunity to share information about her father’s alcoholism in a safe environment where confidentiality and trust are essential.
At the final session and celebration, Amy was one of the last to leave. She ran up to the coordinator, gave her a big hug, looked up with those same big beautiful eyes and simply said…”THANKS!”
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