Amanda Petersen, FocusedKids’ Program Director, is currently pursuing a Masters in Clinical Mental Health while also interning for Pathfinders, a psychosocial support program for cancer and chronically-ill patients, those suffering from grief and loss, caregivers, family members and the community.
Brain Empowerment with Pathfinders and FocusedKids
During her time at Pathfinders, Amanda has organized and led support groups in their schools-based program. She saw an opportunity to utilize some of the tools from FocusedKids to guide her efforts. The application of the FocusedKids skills has enabled Amanda to teach students how to calm their brain and nervous system around their grief and loss. This type of therapy has been a huge success within the schools because when kids learn how to be in charge of their own brains, they feel empowered and can better recognize and manage big feelings and emotions.
Although the pandemic has taken the schools-based program to a virtual format, through Amanda’s creativity she has been able to add some in-person elements for students to utilize while at school to help calm fears they are experiencing with regards to Covid as well as struggles with grief and loss. Pathfinders was able to bring Amanda’s ideas to fruition through the generosity of a very special family.
Marisa Mullins lost her almost seven-year-old son, Lile, in a tragic accident in March of 2012. As Marisa grieved she also wanted to have a legacy that honored Lile and the beautiful soul he was in his short time on earth. Each month Marisa and Mark Mullins send a donation to Pathfinders to help fund projects or counseling that supports others in their grief and loss or illness. With this funding, Pathfinders donated four calm down baskets to two elementary schools, one in Rifle and one in New Castle. The baskets include three puppets representing the three key parts of the brain, a chime, a breathing ball, a glitter jar, a pinwheel, a stress ball, and a mindful coloring book. These baskets are a vital component of the FocusedKids program and will no doubt continue to be an integral part of Pathfinder’s program as well.
Now when Amanda works virtually with the students at these schools, she will be able to utilize the tools from the calm down baskets during her sessions. Students can also practice using the calm down tools throughout the day when they need to take a break, regroup and find some calm before rejoining their class. The students are very excited to have their own tools to use while working with Amanda. In the words of one student, “The breathing ball is so helpful! It really helps me calm down.”
We are grateful for Amanda’s expertise and the wonderful collaboration between Pathfinders’ schools-based program and FocusedKids. The real gift to this program is that the funding came from the family of a boy who cared deeply for others and would feel extremely proud to help other children in need. We honor Lile today and always.