Get by with a little help from your friends
September 23, 2008
As adults, we understand intellectually that our lifes fabric is woven together with threads of change. Some of these threads are happy adjustments; say the birth of a baby; while others, like a divorce or death in the family can be challenging. Experts say our children may experience these pivotal life changes quite differently from adults. For instance, the child may undergo a negative personality change, act out in class or disrupt class activities.In response, the Special Friends program provides extra support for students who are undergoing these types of stressors in their lives.The tremendously successful Special Friends program has been helping children at all of the Tahoe Truckee Unified School Districts elementary schools for more than 15 years. Students who need this extra support are referred to the program by their teachers. The special friends are paid employees who receive special training and are coordinated by the counselor at each site. An employee from the district curriculum and instruction department coordinates the program.Glenshire counselor and Special Friends coordinator Marti Reedy explains, In Glenshire, we are funded by Measure A and the schools PTOs. However each year there has been an increasing funding shortfall because school revenues decrease and other valuable programs compete for funding.Reedy said the program targets children who are having a variety of adjustment issues; for instance a move to a new school, an absent parent, a new baby or a death in the family.Children thrive on attention and this program provides them with a half hour of focused attention, she said. For that focused half hour period they are bathed with attention. We can address the issues before they start causing the kids to act out in different ways.Because these are kids, after all, the program is like traditional adult psychological counseling, but rather play based activities, such as a game or an art activity that may help to sort out feelings.This year the Downtown Truckee Wine, Walk and Shop has selected Truckees Special Friends program as the events non-profit beneficiary. The event is slated for Saturday, Oct. 4, noon to 4 p.m. For more information, visit http://www.TruckeeWineWalk.com.