Nancy Newton is the Executive Director of Rainbows. It is described on their website as "an international not-for-profit organization that fosters emotional healing among children grieving a loss from a life-altering crisis. These losses, among others, include separation, divorce, death, incarceration and foster care."
I believe Rainbows really helps kids deal with the emotional journey of their parents going through a separation or divorce. It does not replace a therapist as it is a system of peer support for the children. It’s kids talking to other kids about their feelings.
Rainbows has their national head office in Barrie, Ontario.
Here is my interview with Nancy.
Q: What does Rainbows do for children whose parents are divorcing? Rainbows provides a 12 – 14 week peer support program
Q: How does Rainbows work? I understand you offer “peer support” . What does that look like? We have weekly topics that are the same at every age level of the program, however the content is age appropriate. The levels are broken into age groups and since the groups are very small, only 3 – 5 per group, it gives the participant time to express their feelings. The program is made up of the child journal (which is theirs to keep), games and activities (to encourage the participant to talk about their feelings) and final ‘Celebrate Me Day’, a day at the end of the session where children learn how to ask for and give forgiveness.
Q: How often and where do they meet? Children meet once a week and the time frame they meet for is based on their age. The very young 3-5 year olds meet for about 30 minutes and the older youth for about 60 minutes. The sites are at schools, places of worship, Military Family Resource Centers, CAS and other social service agencies.
Q: Why is peer support important for children? Peer support is important for children to know, they are not the only ones going through this loss, and they learn from each others experiences and feel that this is a place where they actually are understood – they ‘belong or fit in’.
Q: Is Rainbows a substitute for counseling with a child therapist? We always stress the fact that Rainbows is NOT counseling. We leave the counseling to the professionals. Our volunteers are trained to identify signals that indicate children need more than just Rainbows. We have had children attending Rainbows while they are going for individual counseling. It is important for the Rainbows site to make contact with the child therapist before registering a child for Rainbows to advise the therapist that the child will also be attending Rainbows.
Q: Can the parents find out what the children are saying in the group meetings? Yes and No. The child can tell anyone they choose what they have said during a Rainbows meeting, they just cannot tell what another member of the group has said to anyone. The Rainbows Facilitator also complies with this confidentiality agreement, except if there is a disclosure of a reportable nature. Then the Facilitator follows the guidelines set out by their site.
Q: What is the cost? Rainbows is always free of charge to the children and youth.
Thanks Nancy. Our firm helps raise funds for Rainbows each year at our Holiday Party and through other events. It is a really wonderful charity and does great work in our communities.