New program will help comfort kids during traumatic situations

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CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — With the recent violent across the area, the Champaign County Sheriff’s office has created a way to help, even if it provides just a little comfort. It’s another way community leaders are hoping to achieve victory over violence.

Its called the “Bear Comfort Kits.” The Sheriff’s Office is doing this as a way to help kids who are experiencing trauma.

“Children a lot of times are involved in these traumatic incidents, and it’s really tough to help them through that,” Champaign County Sheriff Dustin Heuerman said.

A new program can now give some extra comfort to kids going through trauma.

“This is one step that we can help a child who is a witness to some kind of traumatic event to help them get over this,” Sheriff Heuerman said.

The Champaign County Sheriff’s Office created “Bear Comfort Kits.” Each squad car will have one kit, which includes a teddy bear, frisbee, and coloring books in a draw string bag.

“When somebody is scared they have that blanket or they have that favorite toy or something that they use just to kind of comfort them, well the bear in my mind would be the exact same thing,” Sheriff Heuerman said. “They’ve got something to take their mind off of what’s going on or what they just saw.”

They hope this can help give a little support to kids going through a bad time. Therapists encourage parents to be vigilant if your child is showing signs of being impacted by gun violence or other trauma.

“They might show signs of being angry or being irritable or acting out rather than being able to say you know I’m scared,” Marilee Johnson, therapist and owner of Child and Family Counseling of Champaign, said.

She says while kids know gun violence may be happening, it’s good to speak to them about it on their level and explain there are more good people in the world than bad.

“It’s also really important that parents take care of themselves and manage their own anxiety about this because especially young children are going to feed off the anxiety of their parents more than the anxiety about the situation,” Johnson said.

The program just began on Friday. Sheriff Heuerman says they have not passed out any kits yet, but hopes that this little act can help brighten a child’s bad day.

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