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Founded by Deborah Marshall, LMHC, ATR, the HEARTplay program has been providing bereavement support to families in Boston’s MetroWest since 1995. In the 25 years since, the program has continually grown, adding additional programming and services and expanding our geographical reach. Since 2012 we have been an official partner of the Camp Erin Network (through Eluna, formerly The Moyer Foundation) and are proud to offer Camp Erin Boston to children and teens ages 6-17 one weekend each summer. Now part of Good Shepherd Community Care, HEARTplay serves the families of Good Shepherd hospice and Pedi-Pal patients as well as any community members who may need these services. All HEARTplay and Camp Erin Boston programs are offered at no cost to all families thanks to generous grants and donations. We have a current focus on serving individuals with disabilities in bereavement and are proud to be intentionally developing and providing programming that is responsive and accessible for participants of all abilities.
We currently offer peer-support groups for children, teens, and young adults in Newton and also in an online format. All groups require registration and are offered on an on-going basis. Participants are encouraged but not required to attend regularly and some groups have a co-occurring caregiver support group. All groups are facilitated by experienced mental health counselors and utilize the expressive arts to engage participants in activities to remember and honor their person as well as to develop emotional awareness and coping skills. The most important factor in HEARTplay groups, though, is that participants get to be with other kids who have also experienced a death, which, as many participants have said, helps them to feel less alone. Please visit our HEARTplay groups page for more specific information about each available group.
This service is available on an as needed basis for individualized pre-bereavement and bereavement support for children, teens, and young adults including individuals with disabilities. One of our experienced HEARTplay team members will meet with your child(ren) at our Newton office or at your home. The number and frequency of sessions will be individualized to your family’s needs and situation and agreed upon between you and the HEARTplay team member. Again, this service is offered at no cost to all participants.
CAMP HEARTplay: our newest HEARTplay program. These “mini-camp” sessions will be offered a few times a year during school breaks and are open to both current and new participants. Facilitated by experienced HEARTplay team members and trained, caring volunteers, CAMP HEARTplay combines the therapeutic benefit of bereavement groups with the fun of a camp experience. For more information about specific CAMP HEARTplay sessions, please visit our CAMP HEARTplay page. We will update that page with information and registration as each session is planned.
TEEN MENTOR PROGRAM
In many ways, the heart of the HEARTplay program, teen mentors are high school students, most of whom have been HEARTplay participants themselves. They go through a training process and volunteer their time to help with the younger children's HEARTplay groups, offering their compassion, experience, and expertise to other grieving children.
We are available to consult with schools and community organizations affected by a life-limiting illness or death in their community. Consultation is individualized to respond to the given situation and community needs and can include consulting with staff supporting a grieving child or family, providing resources, training, or education for school or community organization staff around children and grief, or direct work with children affected by the life-limiting illness or death loss.
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