The Catholic Agency for Justice, Peace and Development

‘Stormbirds’ support programme for children stretches its wings over Christchurch

Event date: 
14 Jun 2011

As aftershocks continue, training begins Wednesday 15 June in Christchurch for a programme helping children and teenagers deal with the emotional impact of the February and ongoing earthquakes.

The ‘Stormbirds’ programme has been specifically developed to help young people in the aftermath of large-scale disasters. Training will be provided to teachers and others working with children. It will be conducted by staff of the Catholic Archdiocese of Wellington experienced in working with grieving children through the Seasons for Growth programme.

The programme is being offered to schools and community groups in Christchurch and other cities to which Christchurch children have relocated, with funding support from Catholic social justice agency Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand.

'Stormbirds: Growing Through Natural Disaster' is a programme developed by Good Grief, an Australian organisation that provides programmes on change, loss and grief in five countries. 'Stormbirds' was trialled after the Australian bushfires, revised for later floods and cyclones, and has recently been adapted for the Christchurch earthquake.

National trainer Sue Devereux says 'Stormbirds' allows children to reflect on the changes that have taken place in their lives since the earthquake.

‘It helps them to deal with their emotions about these changes and identify their own natural resilience, she says. ‘Once they are aware of this resilience, the children make decisions for coping with their future.’

Mrs Devereux suggests that 'Stormbirds' is best delivered by teachers, chaplains, school social workers or chosen people from children's communities. Both Seasons for Growth and Stormbirds is offered to and suitable for schools of all levels, whether state, integrated or private.

Caritas has contributed $12,500 towards an initial round of training, and is considering further support.

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