WellesleyWeston Magazine


Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

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Page 145 of 195

"Children say a lot of things without using words," he said, and adults need to learn to avail themselves of the more subtle ways of understanding and supporting grieving children as they grow. That's why HEARTplay is designed as an ongoing program for children to begin as young as three and stay connected to throughout their teen years, explained Jennifer Wiles, the program's director. A licensed mental health counselor and dance therapist, Wiles said each HEARTplay session is designed to help children tap into their feelings by first grounding them in their physical bodies and then expressing themselves through a hands-on project. Workshops meet one Saturday per month and participants are grouped according to age and grade. Each session centers around a theme, usually tied to a holiday at that time of year. Children take an art project home with them that they can share with their families, such as a valentine for the loved one who died, or a holiday ornament. "When you talk about the grieving process, it should incorporate the remembrances of the happy times, and HEARTplay activities help children remember these things," Wiles said. Most children, and parents, arrive to their first workshop a bit anx- ious, Wiles said, unsure of what to expect. That's why she always makes a home visit first, to introduce herself and learn a bit about the family's situation. Meeting Wiles ahead of time helps create a comfort level for a child coming to HEARTplay for the first time. So, too, does having an assigned teen mentor. Wiles said teens arrive early to help set up and stay afterward to put things away. This service work time also pro- vides a chance for teens to share with one another about what's going on in their lives. Even if they lost a parent or sibling many years ago, each stage of growing up brings new challenges and milestones, such as getting a driver's license or going to the prom. "expressing themselves through a hands-on project" family matters J E S S A M Y N M A R T I N C O U R T E S Y O F T H E P A R M E N T E R F O U N D A T I O N 144 W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | s u m m e r 2 0 1 5

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