Abbotsford Hospice Society Uses Smart and Caring Community Grant to Support Grieving Children, Youth, and Teens 

12 February 2022Grants & Funding, News & Announcements

In 2021, the Abbotsford Community Foundation was pleased to provide $125,000 in funding through our Smart and Caring Community Grants program to 18 charities that support local families in need. One of these incredible projects included Abbotsford Hospice Society’s (AHS) Grief Support Wellness Events for Children, Youth and Teens. AHS has been serving the community for over 35 years with a mission to provide support to local residents in hospice care while providing free services to help grieving family members.

The Grief Support Wellness Events for Children, Youth and Teens came to light after the program managers noticed an influx in grief support for children and youth in our community because of COVID-19 and the many challenges associated with the pandemic. To address this need, the AHS hosted COVID-19-safe grief support wellness events both in-person and online as a part of their children’s programming. They created wellness events around the needs of the community of Abbotsford, which included:

  • Animal-assisted therapies, including a mini donkey visit
  • Family Art Connections, which included different evenings focusing on various art activities with children and their families
  • Family Movie Morning at Cineplex Cinemas
  • Online cooking classes for families
  • Annual Teddy Bear Picnic
  • A Halloween’ Spooktacular’ with different activity stations for kids and families
  • A Christmas Memorial event with activity stations for kids and families
  • Curbside pick-up of care packages, activity kits and personalized treats for families to take home to connect and enjoy together, including Pizza kits from Lepp Farm Market

AHS believes that these wellness events teach healthy expressions of grief and promote positive healing. The events let children and their families share their memories of their loved ones while building on those memories and creating new ones through shared events and activities together. The loss of a loved one affects the child, their family and the whole community, and AHS aims to support children, equipping them with tools to move forward in their grief journey. They report that these children and youth are at risk because grief and loss significantly impact a child’s ability to cope and plan for the future. Grief and loss can manifest themselves in symptoms of chronic depression, sleeping difficulties, low self-esteem, academic failure or indifference to school-related activities, deterioration of relationships with family and friends, risk-taking behaviours such as drug and alcohol abuse, fighting, and sexual experimentation. By implementing this program and addressing issues at a young age, AHS hopes to give children and their families the tools to steer away from the behaviours and activities mentioned above.
The funding provided through the Smart and Caring Community Grant program helped AHS purchase many of the supplies needed for the program. They worked with local businesses such as Lepp Farm Market, Clay Cottage, Boardwalk Games, and Cineplex Cinemas at Highstreet Mall to supply and host the events. AHS reports that from April 2021 until January 14, 2022, they directly served 350 children, youth, and teens through their wellness events, indirectly benefiting 1,400 or so children and youth in our community.
At the Teddy Bear Picnic in July 2021, a mom told AHS:

“Thank you for putting on the teddy bear picnic, we had a blast. You always come up with (such) creative, fun ideas. You made the loss of my children’s father as manageable as it could have been, given the circumstances, and I am forever appreciative of AHS.”

A youth who participated in a teen wellness event also mentioned,

“This was an amazing opportunity for myself and others my age to learn things about grief support and how to be thoughtful of others emotions. Negatives would be that sometimes it would be nerve wracking to have to speak in front of everyone but it was good to do. I would definitely love recommend this, in fact I have told a couple of my friends already to reach out to Abby Hospice! I cannot wait to volunteer with AHS!”

Based on the testimonials above, this project is a clear example of what the Smart and Caring Community Grant program aims to do: support local charities with programs and initiatives that genuinely make a difference for local at-risk children and families. We are so thankful to AHS for their continued dedication to supporting families in our community.
To learn more about the Abbotsford Hospice Society, click here.
To learn more about ACF’s Smart and Caring Community Grants program, click here.


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