Safe Harbor Program helps grieving children

Abington, Pa. (WTXF) "It was difficult for her. She had a hard time and she struggled. She still struggles but this is definitely a huge help for her," said Kelly Wills. She’s grateful for a program that’s helping her 7-year-old daughter Riley cope with the loss of her dad.

"She loves it. She loves just being around the other kids that are going through the same things that she's going through," said Wills. Riley’s dad Tom died of cancer last September.

"All the activities that they do, they talk about that special person and help them remember," said Wills.

The program is called Safe Harbor. It’s operated by Abington Hospital to help grieving young children and teens.  Tuesday night staff held a red carpet event for 23 children who have lost a parent or sibling. They use art, dance and music to help them share their experience with grief in activities through the year. Tonight they unveiled a video they made in February at a week-long camp.

Michelle Balcer is the Program Coordinator.

"They've been through the worst of it already and what we get to do is the healing side of it. So we see the positive which is them getting better," said Balcer.

The event ended with an Oscars awards ceremony. Each child was recognized for their achievements but more importantly their growth  in the healing process.

"They can take from Safe Harbor some coping skills and support and as they move forward through life. They have those with them," said Balcer.

Safe Harbor has been around for 15 years. Children are usually referred through school, doctors or hospice workers.

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