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New camp helps youth connect with parents during challenging times

A new camp is helping children going through challenging times learn new coping mechanisms that will help them for years to come.

Over the weekend, the Wounded Warriors Canada Warrior Kids Camp in Bradford had just over two dozen youth between the ages of eight and 16, with the shared experience of having a parent who is a first responder or military veteran battling psychological impacts from the job.

"It is specifically designed to help kids understand their own mental health as well as their parent's mental health," says Jerris Popik, the camp director. "We also really want to make sure that they have access to getting psychoeducational mental health around what is mental health, how do they look after their mental health and what is an operational stress injury related to their parent?"

The camp ran for two days.

In addition to traditional camp games, students participated in various activities, teaching them different coping mechanisms to deal with the stress they feel when they think about the dangers and challenges their parents face.

"Parents who are impacted by psychological injuries such as PTSD and Operational Stress Injuries, it is a very isolating injury which means a lot of time there's stigma about talking about it," says Popik. "But with the camp and being open and able to bring your child to this program, it opens the door around communication."

The camp first started in 2019 in Alberta, and while there were plans to expand the following year, the COVID-19 pandemic put things on hold.

This weekend's camp was one of the first iterations held outside of Alberta, with another recently held in British Columbia.

"It felt good to know that I have people who know what I'm going to and that I can talk to about everything that's difficult with a parent who is struggling or a parent who is a first responder," says Emilie Misner, a 14-year-old camper whose mother is a paramedic and suffers from PTSD.

"Life changing; 100 per cent life changing for us," says Emilie's mom Melanie. "It's making our family together for everybody to understand everything."

Complete information about the camp is available here. Top Stories

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