National Mental Health Service Provider

WARRIOR KIDS CAMP AND VIRTUAL PROGRAM

An evidence-informed program that builds resilient children and youth impacted by a parental Operational Stress Injury (OSI)

WARRIOR KIDS CAMP AND VIRTUAL PROGRAM

An evidence-informed program that builds resilient children and youth impacted by a parental Operational Stress Injury (OSI)

The Warrior Kids Program 

This one-of-a-kind program combines the essential knowledge around the impact operational stress injuries can have on children and youth in families with a Veteran or First Responder parent. The Warrior Kids Camp and Virtual programs consist of two formats – a 6 week psycho-educational virtual group and a two-day in person overnight camp delivered at various locations in Canada.

The programs have been developed to support children aged 8-16.

WHY WERE THE PROGRAMS CREATED?

With emergent knowledge regarding the impact of OSIs particularly concerning Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) within military members and their families, researchers have identified children and youth of first responder-connected families (i.e. fire, police, paramedic, corrections, call center dispatchers) at risk for developing mental health difficulties as a result of their parents’ occupational stressors.

Research on military and veteran children with parents impacted by an OSI or diagnosed mental health condition shows poor parental mental health and family stressors can negatively affect a child’s mental health and wellbeing. Now more than ever, first responder families require the social work profession to intervene from a family systems framework that understands the bi-directional impact of trauma leading to negative consequences of parental OSIs on their children. 

The first responder population and their families deserve unique evidence-informed prevention and intervention programs that use a holistic view such as, family stress theory to understand the unique issues connected to adverse consequences of OSIs on individual first responders and the mental health and wellbeing of their children.

(Cramm et al., 2016, Carelton, Afifi, Taillieu, et al., 2019)

Understanding the Effects of Parental Psychological Injuries on Children

“I could feel genuine sadness in her (my daughter)…I’ve had a bigger impact on her than I thought I had” (Sherman et al., 2016, p. 406).

Scholars have highlighted connections of secondary traumatic stress and negative emotional and behavioral reactions in children when a parental mental health disorder exists in the family (Cramm et al., 2016; Kelly & Paul, 2018; Sherman et al., 2016)

Over 2 million American children experienced a parent’s deployment to Afghanistan and Iraq. Literature reveals the psychological effects of the service members’ operational stressors cascades through the family system to affect children and their mental health.

(Synder et al., 2016; Foran et al., 2017,Foran, Eckford, Sinclair & Wright, 2017).).

WHO CAN ATTEND WARRIOR KIDS

Children aged 8-16 whose parent is a Canadian Armed Forces member, Veteran or First Responder (firefighter, paramedic, emergency dispatcher, correctional services worker, municipal police officer, or member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police) can participate. 

How does Warrior Kids Programs Make a Difference?

We know that change in one family member, such as a child, affects every other family member. Decades of research in areas of family functioning and traumatic stress suggest experiences of each family member can flow throughout the family system and family-centered approaches to interventions offer positive opportunities to promote mental well-being (Cramm et al., 2016; Sullivan, 2015; Wadsworth et al., 2012).

 

 “I really loved that my children were with other children that are/have experienced a parent with OSI.

  The games and beach/lake time was what they loved. They got the most impact from the workbook time and talking about OSI’s listening to other kids stories. 

The message that stuck with them was “this not your fault” 

I liked being able to discuss coping methods/strategies with others, and being able to share my experiences with others

What does warrior kids teach?

1. Knowing They Are Not Alone

Kids increase a sense of belonging with peers who are from first-responder and military/veteran families with a parental OSI. When children and youth share feelings, thoughts and perceptions around common adversities and problems such as having a parent with an OSI not be able to participate at school or sports events children and families are provided with an opportunity to normalize their distress which can lead to reducing blame on to the parent

2. Building Coping Tools Using The Power of Play

Increasing children’s knowledge around mental health and OSIs and participating in activities related to stress and coping strategies (painting to music, clay, yoga, animal and nature and many more!) strengthens the child and family’s outlook that positive well-being can be attained and within their power.

3. Increase Knowledge Around Operational Stress Injuries

A primary goal of the Warrior Kids programs is to build clear communication around parental OSIs. This topic is explored with participants using the language of visible (i.e. broken leg) and invisible injuries (i.e. psychological hurts).

The Warrior Kids Programs support open emotional expression and clear communication around ambiguous situations connected to living with a parent impacted by an psychological injury to help families thrive. Warrior Kids programs provide opportunities for children and youth to increase knowledge on where our emotions come from and ways can we step into a coping strategy to help with mediating difficult feelings including anxiety, stress and worry.

Upcoming Programs

CAMP- Ontario, Bradford, Hollows Camp, September 17 & 18, 2022
  • September 17 – Drop off at 8:30 am at Hollows Camp, 3155 Line 13, Bradford, ON L3Z 3P7o   Warrior Kids Participants will be going on a field trip to Animal Therapy Ranch – Near Hollows Campo   Afternoon camp activities also include volleyball, soccer, giant Jenga, Swimming, Wide Games, campfire, and a movie
    • September 18 – Day Two of the Warrior Kids Campfocuses on building positive coping tools (Painting to music, Yoga, Inner Coach, and Obstacle Course)
    • Closing Celebration Ceremony – 1:30 pmParents are invited to come back to camp at 1:30 pm to help us cheer on your child as they complete the camp and receive a medal
    • 2:00 pm Camp Officially Ends 

    For additional information in camp facilities: https://hollowscamp.ca/thehollows/facilities/

CAMP- Kelowna, Green Bay Camp May 27 & 28 2023
VIRTUAL- The next virtual program will start on November 7 & 8, 2022

Newfoundland Virtual Program – 

Tuesdays October 11 – November 15 – 

5:30pm NL Timezone 1 hour Kids Group 8-10yrs

6:30pm NL Timezone 1 hour Teens Group 11-16 yrs

Full National Virtual Warrior Kids – East and West kids and teens groups (4 total)  

Fall 2022 Mondays November 7 – December 12 – Western Canada 

5pm-6pm MST kids 8-10yrs

6pm-7pm MST youth 11- 16yrs

Tuesdays November 8- December 13 Eastern and Atlantic Canada

5pm-6pm EST kids 8-10 yrs

6pm-7pm EST youth 11-16yrs

In light of our recent public health regulations, Warrior Kids Camp is moving to offer a six-week virtual group program. The virtual program will bring kids together to help them understand they are not alone while, at the same time, helping them develop peer relationships and critical resilience skills.

  • WEEK 1 – GETTING TO KNOW EACH OTHER
  • WEEK 2 – WHAT IS AN OPERATIONAL STRESS INJURY?
  • WEEK 3 – MINDFULNESS AND FEELINGS
  • WEEK 4 – HOW TO OPERATIONAL STRESS INJURIES IMPACT ME
  • WEEK 5 – POWER OF ANIMALS IN COPING WITH STRESS
  • WEEK 6 – STRESS BUSTERS

 

Steps in Registering your child/teen:

 

  1. Fill out registration information on warriorkids.ca
  2. Watch your inbox for an email from warriorkidsinfo@gmail.com
  3. In this email you will be asked to complete a google form for EACH CHILD YOU WANT REGISTERED.
  4. If you are travelling from outside the camp area, each location will have a discounted hotel group booking code available for a hotel within a 20-25 minute drive from each camp location. Hotel costs are not included in the camp spot and are at the responsibility of each family.
  5. A second email will be sent after you complete your Google Registration forms that will ask you to book an individual one on one telephone intake call (with one or both parents) to discuss the program, go over all the camp details and answer any questions you may have.
  6. Getting Ready for Camp Email – will be sent a week priot to camp that will outline drop off and pick up times, and a what to pack list.

Any questions about camp or registration please contact Warrior Kids Program Director Jerris Popik at jerris@woundedwarriors.ca

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