At Ryther, our therapists and behavior specialists talk to our children about putting on their “grief backpacks.” We ask the kids about people they have lost in their lives. As they list each significant loss, a staff member adds a heavy object to the backpack. They then work on simple daily tasks, such as brushing their 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, we explain the metaphor. Even the youngest children understand – one child said “It’s heavy on your heart.” Ryther helps these children overcome loss and grief so they can look forward to a happier and healthier childhood and beyond.
In April, I am setting off on the 2,661 mile long Pacific Crest Trail, a trail that leads from the Mexican border to the Canadian border. The journey will be daunting and surely the most difficult challenge I have ever faced. My pack will be heavy to carry, but it could never compare to the weight of the grief that Ryther kids carry with them each day. I have worked at Ryther for two years in our Advancement department, managing volunteer and in-kind programs for the kids. During my time, I have been fortunate to meet many of the children that come here for treatment. These are some of the most resilient kids I have ever met.
Many people have asked how they can assist me in my hike. I ask that you join me by supporting Ryther with a gift significant to you. All money raised through this effort will go to Ryther’s Cottage Program. The Cottage Program is where we have the greatest need for funding and where we meet the greatest needs – helping those children impacted by abuse and neglect.
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’s Cottage Program is a residential treatment program providing a hospital step-down or diversion for children ages 6-14 requiring a short-term, highly structured and safe living arrangement. The children in our cottages have seen an average of 9 failed placements and come to us with mental and behavioral health issues including depression, anxiety, ADHD, ODD, PTSD, etc. Visit Ryther's website for more info: www.ryther.org