As classrooms in Alberta reopen for the fall semester, one university is offering a free support program for children as they head back to school amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Strong Mind, Strong Me program was created by the University of Calgary’s Werklund School of Education and is set to offer free support to children and families who are struggling with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties stemming from the pandemic.
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“We really wanted to find innovative ways where we could provide accessible supports to families and children,” doctoral candidate in the Werklund School of Education Victoria Purcell said in an interview with Global News Radio 770 CHQR.
“Our Strong Minds, Strong Me program provides teletherapy and treatment services to children and youths ages six to 18 in Calgary and the surrounding area, who are struggling with mental health concerns as a result of COVID-19.”
The program is available to children and youth who are re-entering the classroom or struggling to adapt to homeschooling during the ongoing pandemic.
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The program is run by graduate student clinicians who are trained to provide counselling services to children and youth. All graduate students will be supervised by an experienced registered psychologist.
Purcell noted that since no one person’s pandemic experience is the same, the clinicians have been trained to help handle an array of issues and situations depending on a client’s individual needs.
“No two families or children have been affected by COVID-19 in the same way,” Purcell said.
“Generally some children are having feelings of stress or anxiety and many children have habitual or patterned ways of dealing with stress and anxiety.”
Up to four sessions will be offered to families for free, but parents can choose to continue working with the program beyond that for an additional fee.
The program is set to run until April 2021.