One of the bonuses about training and working with other people is that I am continually learning. When I teach others I become clear. I become solid in my philosophy of working with kids affected by addiction. But the best gift I get is when someone else teaches me something so important that I know I need to pass it on to others.
This happened to me recently. I was observing a four-day kids group at an organization with their own children's program. The young woman facilitating the group was nothing short of remarkable with the kids. Each day their eyes lit up to see her walk through the door. They knew they could trust her and that it was safe to just be who they were around her. It may sound simple, but it's not.
It was great to watch her throughout the process. On the last day, she led the small group in a closing rock ceremony. I won't get into the details because the the power of the experience is something that can't be shared in words. I will tell you that each one of those kids got a chance to hear the rest of their group members describe how special and unique they are. And they all took it in. It was powerful to see.
As I watched I realized something that I had been taking for granted as I teach others to do this kind of work. In training people I tend to put a lot of emphasis on "beginnings," the set-up of group, the lead-in to the activities. I make assumptions that people know that the "ending" of group for kids is just as important. But often they don't. And the fact that I haven't been teaching that piece as well as I could tells me that maybe I didn't realize it either.
But after watching this group, I got it. Group closure is incredibly important for kids. The ending is just as important as the beginning. Use your closing ceremony to reinforce the most vital message you will ever get to give to the children in your group; that they are important, special and a gift to the world.