While I have worked at Ryther in a variety of different capacities, one I have been most proud of is as the facilitator of Grief and Loss Group. Due to my background in experiential therapy, I find it important for the kids to have tangible ways to conceptualize their own stories. “Grief” is a hard concept for adults to define, and I expected it to be hard for the kids to define as well. Unfortunately, our kids are so familiar with the concept of grief, the harder part turned out to be teaching them that grief is “supposed to” be something that you experience intermittently, not continuously.
One exercise we do is to put on our “grief backpacks.” We then add objects (weights, jugs of water, bocce balls, blocks of clay) to the backpack, one for each significant loss experienced in their short lives. We then work on simple daily tasks, such as picking up after ourselves, going to brush teeth, walking to school, or getting started on homework. As the kids feel how hard these tasks become, how tired they get, and how frustrated they get carrying this backpack everywhere, I explain the metaphor. Even the youngest kids in the group can understand when I say they are carrying that much weight with them in their hearts.
In July, I will be riding 204 miles from Seattle to Portland, in support of these kids. Every time it feels like too much, too hard, and too tiring, I think of those kids who are going through every day carrying too much, which makes it too hard and too tiring. I will ride for them, and I hope you will support me.
About the Ride for Ryther
Now in its third year, the Ride for Ryther has grown to a team of 11 including 6 Ryther staff members, John Gonzales, Siri Gillespie, Robin Bennett, Becky Hutton, Marbie Descatamiento and Colin Powers, and some community supporters. The team will be cycling the 202 miles from Seattle to Portland July 12-13 to raise awareness and funds to support Ryther's programs.
This year, donations made to Ride for Ryther will go towards Specific Assistance, a fund that provides specific activities and items for the children in our Sub Acute Residential Treatment Program:
- $50 would purchase new outfits for a child's adoption photo shoot
- $100 would provide therapeutic yoga classes for all children for one month
- $250 would allow five kids to attend a week-long summer camp of their choice
Ryther is a leader in behavioral health services for children, teens and youth - some of the most vulnerable in Washington state. Those they serve have often been affected by abuse, neglect, mental illness, addiction or trauma.
Ryther is dedicated to providing comprehensive services and innovative treatments so that every child and family they work with may experience new ways of thinking, develop positive relationships and realize a better life.
The team is riding as part of the large Group Health STP ride: http://www.cascade.org/ride-major-rides/group-health-stp
Visit Ryther's website for more info: www.ryther.org