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UMTV: Art by Grieving Children



How can adults help children deal with loss, express feelings of anger or sadness? A program that encourages artistic expression has been giving kids an outlet for their sorrow and opening doors of communication.

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(Locator: Midland, Texas)

(Counselor to Children) "What I had y'all start on, is to draw about your loss or change."

(Child to group) "It's my dad in his car. He died in a car accident. And there is me crying."

Vicki Jay, Executive Director, Rays of Hope Children's Grief Centre: "Rays of Hope is a children's grief center in Midland, Texas. We serve children who've had losses and changes due to death, divorce, incarceration and other painful transitions. I am Vicki Jay I am the Executive Director of Rays of Hope Children's Grief Center, and I have served as a Stephen Minister at First United Methodist Church."

(Counselor to teenagers) "Ok guys, I want you to play a song that sounds angry and mad, and as furious as you can sound it. Alright, ready? Go!"

Vicki Jay: "Kids really do want us to see inside, and sometimes the best way is to show us, like photography, music, art and drama and movement, talking, playing and sharing and being with others."

Vicki Jay: "This is our photo journey. The kids have put their work on the wall. They have each actually hung the picture themselves, because they want other people to see inside their hearts."

Graphic: My dad is gone and left me behind, but someday I will catch up.

Graphic: I don't want to feel that I have to LISTEN to everyone ask questions about it! I don't want to LOOK at his grave. I don't want to feel pressured to TALK about it.

Graphic: Does my dad even love me?

Graphic: I want my parents to stop fighting.

(Vicki Jay talks about photos) "This is my friend Bethany. Bethany when she came to us so dark and a really disturbed child, she was so upset with the world. The Bethany that I know now is nothing like the Bethany that's there."

Bethany Campbell, Rays of Hope client: "When I was thirteen,it was a normal day, November 2005. My brother, he went over to some friend's house. As soon as my mom came home at eleven, it's11:02 and he wasn't home. She said, 'where's Aaron?' I was like, 'I don't know, I haven't talked to him.' Comes to it my brother had taken his own life that night. He committed suicide in our alley, using his own hunting rifle that he had had. For me, I am an artistic person and you know sometimes I think for anybody it's hard to express yourself through words. And you know, if you can't sit down and talk to someone, you can sit down and you can draw a picture. You can take a photograph. You can write a story. It just helped get my emotions out in another way, rather than just talking."

Vicki Jay: "Our community is very lucky to have Rays of Hope. They have been very supportive. And our kids in this community, we have a building that says Children's Grief Center. That means our community recognizes that kids have grief issues and where going to do something about it. That would be my wish for every community; I wish every community could have a Rays of Hope. Some way to serve childrenwho have had losses and changes; some way to recognize that their grieving and to do something about it."


After 20 years with the Rays of Hope program, executive director Vicki Jay moved on in 2013. Jay is now the executive director of Midland Shared Spaces. The Rays of Hope program continues under new leadership. For more information about the Rays of Hope Children's Grief Center, call 432-684-KIDS (5437).

Posted: October 17, 2011