Losing a loved one is a hard blow that we never really recover from, but as adults we generally can find a healthy way to grieve. When children lose a loved one, though, it can be a lot harder for them to heal properly.
"Grief in general is hard to talk about for all ages, but kids don't have the experience or knowledge on how to cope in a healthy way," said Rachel Karp, the event chair of a new 5K, Care to Carry On 5K Run and Walk, which will be raising money for Camp Erin Philadelphia.
According to The Moyer Foundation which created Camp Erin, "1.5 million children under the age of 18 have lost an immediate family member. Research indicates these children are at a much greater risk for anxiety, depression, suicide, poverty and substance abuse."
Camp Erin Philadelphia, facilitated by the Penn Wissahickon Hospice, part of Penn Medicine, combines traditional, fun, high-energy camp activities with the grief education and support the kids and teens need to carry on after a loss, in a healthy way. The Care to Carry On 5k Run and Walk will help to fund the free overnight camps' supplies, activities, room and board.
Karp volunteered at Camp Erin last year as a member of the ritual committee. "We were responsible for remembrance activities. We try to give kids the ability to share their loved one they lost. Camp opens with a memory board project and closes with candle lighting ceremony."
"It is an amazing experience to see the bonds they make. They realize they are not alone. At home not many people can relate to their loss. It can be life-saving," she added.
Care to Carry On 5K Run and Walk which will be held on Sunday, April 19 at The Philadelphia Zoo is presented by the Care for the Cure Foundation, which was founded to raise awareness and funds for blood cancer treatment, but has expanded to support like-minded organizations.
This is a family-friendly race that includes free all-day access to the zoo. Everyone, no matter what your age, is invited to run, walk, hop, skip or jump their way through the Philadelphia Zoo.
"The goal of event is to spread grief awareness and to raise money for Philadelphia location of Camp Erin. Hundreds of kids apply, but this free camp is only able to accept 100."
The fun will start at The Philadelphia Zoo at 8 a.m. on Sunday, April 19. Registration is 7 a.m. There is still time to register here.