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Read more about our Kids Club program and how it's impacting refugee children who have recently resettled in the United States.
This summer, groups of children from different countries will gather together for week-long program consisting of therapeutic activities, English lessons and cultural orientation. They don’t all speak the same languages, and they have different styles of dress and customs. However, these children share a common experience: they are all refugees whose families have recently been resettled in the Atlanta area.
Last summer, LSG launched Kids Club, a program to help refugee children adjust to life in the United States. Forced from their homes and countries by violence and turmoil, refugee children have witnessed horrific atrocities and experienced circumstances and conditions that most of us can't fathom. Often they spend years in a refugee camp before arriving to the U.S. with few possessions. While there are programs in place to help adult family members, the children's specific and unique needs are often overlooked. Kids Club was developed as a way to help these children deal with the trauma of their past circumstances and cope with the culture shock of a new, unfamiliar country.
In June and July, LSG will host four week-long sessions with approximately 30 kids each week. The children participate in a wide range of educational, team building and therapeutic activities. Licensed therapists lead sessions in art therapy, grounded yoga therapy, adventure therapy and animal-assisted therapy. The kid will also have music and dance lessons, English language skill development, sports and physical activities, and arts and crafts.
So, how does all this help a child during this difficult time in his or her life? Our Kids Club coordinator Jessie Burnette shares a transformation she witnessed in two siblings during our spring break session of Kids Club in April.
My heart skipped a beat as I glanced up at the bridge where a number of children were playing on our visit to a local park on the last day of camp. As I sat beneath a gazebo chaperoning youth from six different countries feeding ducks and fish swimming in the pond, I noticed one Syrian child without his sibling on the bridge above. I sprinted from my gazebo post to the top of the bridge to locate the missing sibling. As I frantically searched for her face in the crowd of 30-plus refugee children, I felt physically ill with worry. Then, just as quickly as I had ‘lost’ the child, I spotted her. She was laughing, with a new Sudanese friend, as she looked over the opposite side of the bridge at turtles basking in the sun. Feeling of relief and then amazement overcame me as I watched this incredible event unfold.
It took a moment for me to fully process what I was seeing. This particular pair of siblings had refused to leave the other’s sides since I had met them two weeks earlier. When they were away from their parents, they clung tightly to one another with every step they took. They were incredibly dependent upon one another. Their attachment was so intense that they became visibly upset and uncomfortable if they were separated. Then, suddenly- without any prompting- they were courageous and comfortable enough to walk away from the other one. Here in this moment, I witnessed a child grow confident enough to stray from the grasp of her sibling that had previously been her cloak of safety. At that time, each sibling displayed a new sense of self and trust in their surroundings.
This is how Kids Club is making a difference in the lives of newly resettled children. We allow them to develop a sense of trust in their community, while building skills needed to cope with daily stressors of resettlement. Social and coping skills are cultivated in an encouraging and safe environment, promoting resiliency and confidence in an otherwise trying time in their lives.
If you are interested in helping make a lasting impact on a refugee child’s life? Support LSG’s Kids Club either by donating money or supplies or volunteering your time. For more information on how you can help, please contact LSG at 404-875-0201.