Rainbow Program Helps Kids Deal with Divorce

Article excerpt

Byline: Jean Murphy Daily Herald Correspondent

Articles in national magazines and television programs report on the increasing incidence of divorce in America.

And anyone who has watched even a portion of these shows or read even a little bit about the phenomenon knows that it is the children involved in these divorce situations who suffer the most -both short-term and in the long run.

"You can walk into any classroom here and the majority of children in there aren't going to be from a two-parent home," said Jill Young, an Elk Grove Township Elementary District 59 school psychologist.

That is why Rainbows, a national peer support group, was begun almost 20 years ago. The program, which is administered through schools, churches and synagogues, is designed to help steer children through family crises.

It cannot and does not try to mend broken families. Instead, it focuses on healing children's emotional pain.

Family stress, including death of a parent or sibling, separation or divorce of parents, crosses all cultural lines and it also affects children who are physically challenged.

Consequently, when Elk Grove Township Elementary District 59's Holmes Junior High School in Mount Prospect brought in the Rainbows program last year with some financial help from its Parent-Teacher Organization and a grant from Sears, the coordinators, Young and Jane Paterala, assistant principal, wanted to make sure the benefits of Rainbows were available to all of their students.

That meant they had to train faculty facilitators who could interpret and/or conduct sessions in Spanish for the Hispanic students and they had to train someone who could "sign" for their students who are deaf and hard-of-hearing.

Holmes is the magnet school for deaf and hard-of-hearing students from 45 area school districts under the Low Incidence Cooperative Agreement.

Twenty-three LICA students are currently enrolled at Holmes, two of whom participated in Rainbows this year.

Similarly, out of Holmes' population of 550 students, approximately 100 are bilingual and nine of them participated in Rainbows this year.

During the course of this school year at Holmes, nine trained facilitators at the school moderated six groups which "graduated" a total of 32 children in February. …