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Inaugural Children and Loss Conference to be held in LIT this June

The June 14th event will also mark the 10th birthday of the Children’s Grief Centre, which has helped more than 1,300 children affected by loss through death, separation and divorce

The opening address will be presented by Children’s Grief Centre Ambassador Olive Foley

Olive Foley, Children’s Grief Centre Ambassador and widow of the late Munster rugby hero Anthony Foley, will present the opening address at the International Children and Loss Conference in Limerick next month.

The event, which will also mark the 10th birthday of the Children’s Grief Centre, will take place at the Millennium Theatre, LIT, Moylish Campus, Limerick on Friday June 14, 2019.

The Children’s Grief Centre has supported more than 1,300 children as they deal with family separation, divorce and death.

Among those speaking at the conference will be Daniel McConnell, Political Editor of the Irish Examiner, whose mother died when he was very young.

Dr. Elizabeth Nixon, Trinity College Dublin, will share the most up to date research and expert advice on the impact of parental separation on children, while Jennifer Moran Stritch Director of the Loss and Grief Research Group at LIT will facilitate a workshop on “The Benefits for Care Professionals of Education on Loss and Grief”.

There will be four breakout workshops in total to choose from, as well as a panel questions and answers discussion at the end.

The conference is open to every one including care professionals such as psychologists, social workers, youth workers, social care practitioners, teachers, and SNAs, as well as the general public such as parents, grandparents and family members.

Founder of the Children’s Grief Centre Sr. Helen Culhane said the conference was an expansion of the work that takes place at the centre, by raising awareness around bereavement and loss in childhood.

Sr Helen said, “We see the work we do as very important work as we are supporting children who are impacted by loss due to bereavement, separation and divorce. The centre is unique in that it is volunteer led and to-date we have seen over 1,300 children, two thirds of which are referrals due to loss by separation or divorce. The remaining one third are referrals due to loss by the death of a family member or close friend for the most part.

“The conference will help raise awareness around bereavement and loss and the resultant emotional turmoil experienced by children and enable the Children’s Grief Centre to continue to help address their feelings of loss in a positive way. We are delighted to be celebrating our 10th anniversary since the centre’s foundation and we are looking forward to the conference.”

Speaking at the launch of the June conference, Sr Helen paid tribute to the centre’s ambassador Olive Foley.

“Olive is a highly respected and valued member of the community and her recognition of the work being done here at the Children’s Grief Centre is truly humbling. Together we will continue making a difference in the lives of children and young people.’

Olive said she was honoured to be Ambassador for the Children’s Grief Centre.

“The Children’s Grief Centre is very close to my heart. After losing my husband suddenly in October 2016, giving my children the best support possible at this time was an absolute priority. I was put in touch with Sr. Helen at the Children's Grief Centre and from the very first time I brought my two boys in, I knew we were in the right place. There was empathy, understanding, compassion and all delivered through conversation, art and play,” she added.

“The Children's Grief Centre has helped my children and those of countless other families deal with and process the sudden loss of a loved one or the break-up of their parents. It is now my privilege and honour to come on board as an ambassador, to do whatever I can to support this amazing project. In my role as an ambassador, I hope to help raise awareness of the incredible work done by Sr. Helen and her team and, in doing so ensure that more and more children get the same light shone on them during their darkest hours.”

The inaugural Children and Loss Conference will be officially opened by LIT President, Professor Vincent Cunnane.

Jennifer Moran Stritch, director of the Loss and Grief Research Group at LIT, said,

“We are absolutely delighted to be hosting the Children and Loss Conference in cooperation with the Children’s Grief Centre. Helen Culhane has been a frequent guest lecturer for our social care students over the years and we’re also conducting postgraduate research with them about the benefits of creative therapies for children and families who’ve experienced loss. This conference will be a great chance to learn more about how to support children during difficult times and to celebrate the wonderful work of the Centre over the last decade in Limerick and the wider Mid West region.”

The conference will take place on Friday June 14 from 8.30am to 1.30 pm in the Millennium Theatre, LIT. It is supported by LIT, LIT GRO, the LIT Loss and Grief Research group, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and Mercy Congregation –South Central Province.

Tickets for the event are available from Eventbrite.

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