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Free, 10-week program for kids, moms started April 13

Becki Crewe, special to The Packet & Times

Editor's note: This article updates incorrect information from the original article. This program is not aimed at children who have been abused by their mothers; it is for children who have witnessed abuse against their mothers. The Packet & Times regrets the errors and apologizes for any inconvenience they might have caused.

There are choices for children who have witnessed violence against their moms.

Choices for Children is a free, 10-week group program for children ages five to 15 who have been witnessed their mothers being abused, and for mothers who have experienced violence.

The program also allows mothers to discuss the effect of abuse on their children.

"The program supports moms who have (experienced) abuse as well as to educate children who have (witnessed) abuse," said Allison Garratt, one of the group facilitators.

The program uses age-appropriate activities for children to help them develop methods and skills to cope with and express their emotions. Garratt said children learn tools to identify anger, understand anger and express their feelings in productive ways.

She said there are many benefits of the program because it gives children an opportunity to learn about abuse, receive individual counselling and support and connect with others experiencing abuse.

"It's based on education," said Garratt. "We're teaching topics and children are doing activities based on those teachings."

Mothers and children are divided into separate groups, she said, noting, "Kids learn tools to cope with abuse and the mothers learn how the abuse is affecting their children."

The program allows mothers to receive peer support and provides a chance to network with other mothers.

The confidential program is offered by Huronia Transition Homes, a non-profit organization working to end violence against women and children.

The program began April 13 and runs Mondays from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Food is provided. Child-care and transportation supports are available.

To register, contact Garratt at 705-526-3221, ext. 242, or 800-461-1750. From there, an orientation will be scheduled for organizers to meet with the children.

Choices for Children programs are also available in Midland, Barrie, Alliston and Collingwood.

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