Peer group offers safe space for children who have experienced loss to open up

A woman kneels and pats a St. Bernard dog
Angela Blenkhorne and Bernie. Photo submitted by Angela Blenkhorne.
Ed Halverson - QCCR/CJQC - LiverpoolNS | 27-07-2022
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Children who have experienced the loss of someone close to them have an outlet to share their experiences.

Bernie’s Buddies, a kid’s peer support group is being offered at Queens Place Thursday.

Originally from Nova Scotia, and now living in Alberta, founder Angela Blenkhorne launched the program in 2015. She was inspired to do something to help kids after dealing with the loss of her father at 14.

“Even as an adult grief can be incredibly isolating but as a child you think, well, am I just supposed to be over this now? How does this all work?” said Blenkhorne. “So, you’re sort of, left to your own devices and you just deal with it yourself and put on a smile and keep on going. But I gotta tell you, that’s not the way to do it.”

Blenkhorne brings together children aged eight to 12 and invites them to talk about their experiences as they are engaged with art activities, yoga and a therapy dog.

Bernie’s Buddies was named after and inspired by an abandoned St. Bernard dog Blenkhorne adopted.

She says despite being deaf, Bernie was exceptional connected with children who would come over to interact with him wherever he went.

“And that was the connection there for us,” said Blenkhorne, “and we thought, let's put together a workshop so kids can get together in a group, have some community, have shared space have a therapy dog to hang out with, do some physical movement to shake out the sillies, 'cause really, you know with kids, kids do best when they wiggling around a lot of times, and then do an activity that brings them all together so they can be creative but also feel comfortable enough in that  creativity to share, if they feel like it.”

Bernie passed away a couple of years ago so St. John Ambulance will be providing a therapy dog for the July 28 event.

Thursday’s session at Queens Place is completely free but pre-registration is required.

To register, follow this link.

Twitter: @edwardhalverson

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