- Posted by Sarah Swiston
- On July 31, 2019
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- Backyard Experience, chicago metropolitan area, Chicago suburbs, children services, children survivors dv, Domestic Violence, DV agency, dv survivors, End Domestic Violence, family services, mane in heaven, non-profit agencies, northwest chicago, Shelters, UniverSoul Circus, WINGS, WINGS Program, WNBA
In addition to essential clinical services like children’s individual and group counseling, parenting classes, one-on-one parenting coaching, and case management; WINGS Children and Family Services program also provides fun experiences for child survivors. These experiences are called family enrichment activities, and help foster family bonding and relaxation.
Did you know?
Did you know that a majority of WINGS clients in our housing programs are children? In fiscal year 2019, children comprised 54% of those served in our Safe Houses and 63% of those served in our Transitional Housing programs.
Consequently, WINGS works towards ending the cycle of violence through the agency’s comprehensive Family and Children Services program.
Family and Children Services – A Comprehensive Approach
Studies and articles have shown that abuse is a learned behavior which can have serious effects on a child’s development. However, early interventions can assist traumatized children in healing and give them resources to grow and ultimately break the cycle of violence.
Through WINGS Children and Family Services program, each youth is provided with a Children’s Advocate who meets with the child and the child’s parent to assess the child’s current developmental, educational, medical, and emotional needs. The Children’s Advocate then provides therapeutic services and resources for the child to address their needs, giving them the necessary tools to thrive.
“The best day of my life!” – Fun Experiences through Family Enrichment Activities
Each year, WINGS Children and Family Services program provides a number of social activities for both children and their parents to learn about each other and the world around them. Recent experiences include an annual picnic, UniverSoul Circus, Backyard Experience, WNBA game, and annual Santa Fly-in holiday event.
With transportation adding a significant cost to these activities, this year funding from the Driskill Foundation is providing buses to transport families from both Safe Houses to events.
“Excursions like these are important, especially for low-income families who wouldn’t otherwise have the resources to expose their children to these types of activities,” WINGS Children’s Advocate Caitlyn shares.
“One child in our program would often easily shut down or not listen to staff. When we took that family to the UniverSoul Circus, the child’s face changed from anxious to pure joy,” Caitlyn says, “It was amazing to see the transformation. He told us the day he went to the circus was the best day of his life.”
One of WINGS favorite annual events among families is the agency picnic. This July’s picnic had great weather and one of the largest turnouts over the last several years with 60 attendees.
Families across all programs enjoyed lunch and activities including a bounce house, kiddie pool and water balloons, age-appropriate games and crafts. Some of the client’s favorite activities typically include miniature therapeutic horses from Mane in Heaven and tie dying t-shirts.
This year, WINGS Children’s Advocate Caitlyn worked at the very popular tie-dye station.
“Families kept coming back multiple times. People were excited to see how the shirts turned out and even asked me if we can do tie dye again at the Safe House,” Caitlyn shares.
The Backyard Experience
Another fun family enrichment activity took place this spring in collaboration with community partner, the Backyard Experience. Families were taken to the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity in Schaumburg. This is an art studio that teaches kids how to draw and paint and informs them of careers that incorporate creativity.
Each family was given a square of a mural to design and paint with the overall theme, “Don’t just fly – soar”. The finished result was a colorful mural showcasing clients’ creativity.
Parties, Summer Camp, Homework Club and More!
In addition to field trips, WINGS Children and Family Service programs also offer fun seasonal activities to clients.
- Holiday Parties – Halloween, Easter, and Valentine’s Day parties are held annually and include crafts, games, and often cookie decorating.
- Summer Camp – Summer camp is held three times a week for 3 hours and is primarily led by interns and volunteers. Volunteers with backgrounds in education lead STEM activities.
- Homework Club – During the school year, Homework Club meets three to four times per week to provide tutoring and other educational support.
“These activities are impactful for families and give them the opportunity to take a break from all the stressors in their lives.
I like that staff and families get to know each other on a personal level. It helps show families that even though they may have felt alone or isolated in the past as a result of their abuse, we are all in this together,” Caitlyn shares.
Interested in volunteering or helping make these events possible? – learn more.