Rainbows Program gives hope to children

Photo Courtesy of NCJW/Essex
Melissa Taylor, inspired by the Rainbows program, sets new goals at the NCJW/Essex Center for Women.

LIVINGSTON, NJ — “Recovering from a loss is never easy, especially if you are 10 years old,” said Melissa Taylor, now 25, recalling her experience with the Rainbows Program after her father’s death. “I was in fifth grade and will never forget how difficult it was for me to process such a horrific experience. The Rainbows Program helped me through that very dark time in my life.”

Rainbows, a children’s peer support group centered on trust, support and acceptance, is one of the many programs offered at the Linda & Rudy Slucker NCJW/Essex Center for Women. It is guided by caring, trained adults who help children ages 5 to 12 years old who have suffered losses either through death, divorce or other painful transitions.

“Rainbows allowed me to speak up in a safe place where I didn’t have to feel alone,” Taylor said. “By meeting other children in similar circumstances, I was able to connect in a way I never would have been able to without feeling self-conscious or uncomfortable.”

“Children often do not have language for their feelings of sadness, loss or fear. Sometimes they do not even feel entitled to their feelings,” Rainbows clinical consultant Ruth Cohen said. “Sensitive children may be aware of a parent’s grief and worried that expressing their own is too much of a burden. Other children may believe no one has time to listen to their concerns or to acknowledge losses that they imagine somehow reflect badly on themselves. Rainbows provides the language and a safe place to explore the meaning of family loss and change with other children who face similar challenges.”

From a young, distressed 10-year old, Taylor has grown into a strong, confident young woman. After attending college, she spent several years working in the fashion industry. More recently, inspired by her experience at Rainbows, Taylor decided she wanted to help others who have suffered a loss. With a new set of goals, Taylor came to the NCJW/Essex Center for Women to take advantage of its career services programs, attending Job Club, career counseling and LinkedIn training. Having learned a new set of skills, Taylor was empowered to achieve her objective and has since secured jobs as a support group facilitator at a local school and as an assistant support teacher.

“The aim of Rainbows is to implant in children a belief in their own goodness and that each change in life is an opportunity for a new beginning,” Center for Women coordinator Jill Kapleau said. “It is rewarding to know that the impact Rainbows had on Taylor as a child gave her the self-confidence to turn to us for assistance as an adult.”

For many years the Rainbows Program at the Linda & Rudy Slucker NCJW/Essex Center for Women has helped children overcome grief. All services are confidential. For more information visit www.centerforwomenNJ.org, call 973-994-4994 or email centerforwomen@ncjwessex.org. The Rainbows program is nonsectarian and is open to all children regardless of religion.

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