Com­mu­nity re­acts to sud­den pass­ing of 10-year-old friend

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Prairies - BY GIL­LIAN SLADE South­ern Al­berta News­pa­pers

A range of sup­ports are in place to help stu­dents, par­ents and staff deal­ing with grief over the sud­den pass­ing of Dex­ter Druar, 10, of Red­cliff, on Jan. 18.

He was a keen hockey player in­volved with Red­cliff Mi­nor Hockey.

“By all ac­counts just a great kid, full of life, big smiles,” said Bruce John­son, pres­i­dent, who called it “a sit­u­a­tion that you just can­not pre­pare for.”

Vic­tim ser­vices pro­vided ad­vice last Fri­day night on the best way to pro­ceed, he ex­plained. In most cases par­ents had al­ready bro­ken the news to their chil­dren by Satur­day morn­ing when man­age­ment of the teams di­rectly af­fected met to put grief coun­sel­lors in place.

“You just have to take the first step. There just is no right or wrong,” said John­son, in­di­cat­ing it is hard to know how the chil­dren are cop­ing with the news.

“Chil­dren deal with things dif­fer­ently than adults and the one mes­sage we sent to all the kids is that there is no ex­pi­ra­tion date on grief and the sup­port will be there for them as long as they need it,” said John­son. “As one of the grief coun­sel­lors stated, the grief will come in waves.”

Druar was a stu­dent at Mar­garet Wood­ing School. “Dex­ter will be re­mem­bered as a good friend and ded­i­cated stu­dent. His pas­sion for sports was ob­vi­ous, as was the re­spect he had from his fel­low class­mates. School staff of­ten talked about how Dex­ter al­ways seemed to have a twinkle in his eye. Dex­ter was a won­der­ful stu­dent and friend who will be very much missed by all of us at Mar­garet Wood­ing School,” said Craig Cor­sie, prin­ci­pal.

Prairie Rose School Di­vi­sion be­gan work­ing with a psy­chol­ogy team over the week­end to de­sign a re­sponse, said Rea­gan Weeks, as­sis­tant su­per­in­ten­dent.

“Right now our hearts are break­ing. We’ve got staff mem­bers who are work­ing their way through this process,” said Weeks.

At each school site this past Mon­day there were fam­ily li­ai­son work­ers, said Weeks. A so­cial worker spoke to stu­dents in each class­room at all of the schools be­cause in a smaller com­mu­nity such as Red­cliff the news has im­pacted ev­ery­one.

“Com­mu­nity sup­ports were es­tab­lished in con­sul­ta­tion with Al­berta Health Ser­vices and the Town of Red­cliff,” said Weeks.

This would help to pro­vide strate­gies for par­ents who are deal­ing with their own chil­dren im­pacted by the news, said Weeks. Let­ters were also be­ing given to stu­dents on Mon­day to take home to par­ents out­lin­ing strate­gies for talk­ing to chil­dren when work­ing through a tragedy such as this.

“Ev­ery­one pro­cesses grief in a lit­tle bit of a dif­fer­ent way and we will en­sure that we have sup­port avail­able for how­ever that looks for each in­di­vid­ual child,” said Weeks. “We will en­sure that our team is avail­able to wrap around them and pro­vide the sup­port that they need.”

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