Why do we have a children's counselling program based on play therapy? We could give you stats and data and all the evidence about why it's important. However, we're just going to share a story about a little boy named Charlie.*
Charlie is 6 years old.
Charlie was abused physically when he was younger but nowadays, it's mostly psychological and verbal abuse. We know this from the words he screams. The ones he uses to scream at classmates. The ones he uses to scream at teachers.
Charlie is a very angry little boy.
He also still lives in the same house as his abusive mom who is a recovering alcoholic. She relapses often. His dad provides adequate care and because there's no physical evidence of abuse and Charlie doesn't tell what happens to him at home, his living situation is unlikely to change.
But his teachers and everyone they've brought in to consult about Charlie and his outbursts and anger issues in the classroom can predict Charlie's future and the labels that will likely follow him for the rest of his life:
High School Drop Out.
One day, Charlie received some basic play therapy (with a volunteer therapist, on a one-time basis). In the sandbox, Charlie was quiet and calm and simply built layer after layer of protection - fortress walls, and hills, and fences. Because Charlie was trying to protect himself. From all the world around him and all the bad that he faces everyday. It was the first real insight that professionals had in how Charlie actually feels without being masked by anger.
Charlie's anger is a form of protection. And a way to communicate his frustration and helplessness because he doesn't have the right words to tell adults.
The school approached SAiF for more children's counselling - play therapy - for someone of Charlie's age to deal with the trauma of his past abuse; for coping skills for his current situation; and a way for him to communicate and learn to channel and self-regulate the anger and frustration he feels everyday.
At the time, we had to say no. Because we simply didn't have a children's counselling program. And play therapists are expensive. Even though we get asked regularly for this type of service, we just hadn't been able to get any grants from the province or various municipalities. The coffers were empty and we kept getting turned down.
But we don't want to say no anymore to these children. We don't want Charlie to be destined, at the age of 6, for a future that's pretty bleak when we know there's a chance to change it.
We want to give Charlie a chance at a different path for his life. And counselling, at an early age, may just give him that chance.
So we launched a pilot program for children's counselling, featuring play therapy.
And we used the money raised to provide as many children with counselling services as we can. Our goal was $30,000 which would allow us to provide counselling for 20 kids (and their families). If we raised less, we'd support less kids. If we raised more, that just meant we'd get to support more kids.
But we're going to do this. For as many kids as we can.
Can you help us help Charlie? And others like him?
You could give monthly, in small increments. Just that commitment helps us with our intake and assessment for how many kids we'll be able to work with over the year. Or you could give one big gift if that's what you'd prefer to do. It's entirely up to you and what you can afford. Whatever you can give, we thank you.
Thank you for letting us help Charlie, and so many others like him, have a better future.
* names and details have been changed to maintain confidentiality