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Ted E. Bear Hollow Adds New Youth Program

Since 2001, Ted E. Bear Hollow has provided a safe place to express emotions, to remember loved ones openly, and to learn ways to care for themselves in the sad times. Through support groups, day camps, retreats and a variety of programs, Ted E. Bear Holllow has helped thousands of children and their loved ones move beyond their grief of the loss of a loved one to death toward healing. Today, Ted E. Bear Hollow is the premier resource for grieving children, teens, and their families in the Omaha/Council Bluffs area.

Realizing that youth experience loss and grief from a variety of life situations, not just the death of a loved one, Ted E. Bear Holllow recently expanded its programs to reach a wider population of youth in need. Working with organizations such as Girls’ Inc. and The Douglas County Youth Center, Ted E. Bear Hollow is piloting the Growing Through Loss Program, a community-based 12-week comprehensive training program that provides a supportive, therapeutic, and educational learning experience for grieving and depressed youth.

“If kids can learn to cope with loss and grief in healthy ways, the risk for substance abuse and depression is greatly minimized,” Ted E. Bear Hollow Executive Director Nancy Hemesath said. “The Growing Through Loss Program emphasizes prevention. We know helping a kid become healthy with their grief makes a difference.” 

The Growing Through Loss Program was developed by two substance abuse counselors working with youth in juvenile detention centers who witnessed kids anesthetizing their pain with drugs, alcohol, or other harmful behaviors because of losses they had that they never resolved. The program helps kids first identify their loss, whether it be abandonment, divorce, abuse, death or a variety of other issues, and then helps them deal with how the loss has affected them providing them with tools on how to not only understand their grief but provides options to move forward in a healthy way.

Ted E. Bear Hollow hopes to work with various youth organizations in North Omaha throughout the year to bring the Growing Through Loss program to a greater number of kids in need. Because a large percentage of youth have experienced some sort of loss: children in foster care, youth who have dealt with violence, or who are in the court system to name a few, Hemesath sees a great deal of possibility for this program.

“I can’t imagine a foster care child who doesn’t feel like they haven’t had major losses. Loss of a stable home, loss of biological parents, and as youth violence escalates, I know there are more and more youth affected by loss of some sort, Hemesath said. “We always want to make a bigger difference in the community, and reach those who wouldn’t necessarily come to us first, and this program is a great way to do that.”