Group Offering “Healing Sessions”

In the wake of the devastating loss of two young Naperville children, a local not-for-profit is reaching out to those still grieving. 360 Youth Services is offering free healing sessions from now until December 31st. The group’s Executive Director Ron Hume got the idea after attending the candlelight vigil to remember Justin Plackowski and Olivia Dworakowski, the two children who were stabbed to death in a Naperville home.

“The events that happened were so horrific,” said Hume. “For a parent to do that to a child and another person’s child, it went beyond just an act of violence and it went into perhaps the most intimate and intensely personal area a parent could have, protecting your child.”

360 Youth Services is offering two free meetings with a counselor to families from Scott and Brookdale Elementary Schools, where Plackowski and Dworakowski had attended.

Available until the new year, they refer to the meetings as “Healing Sessions.”

“That’s what it really is for. It’s to help families heal that are really struggling with this,” Hume said.

Clinical Director Kari Wittmann Lata says it’s important for kids to be able to talk about what happened so they don’t suppress their emotions.

“That kind of emotion that’s not expressed and not processed tends to build up and come out in other ways through acting out, or nightmares, or just unresolved grief as adults,” she said.

Wittmann Lata says parents must be honest with their children and not sugarcoat any details their kids may already know.

“What happened happened. And that’s something we all have to wrestle with. So you’re trying to help your child deal with that,” said Wittmann Lata.

She also cautions not pushing others to feel better too fast.

“It’s about saying ‘Yes, this is bad and I feel horrible’ versus saying ‘Oh don’t feel too bad. They’re in a better place,’” she said. “People often want to rush in and smooth it over but that really invalidates how people are feeling.”

Wittmann Lata says there are certain signs to look for in a child that suggest they may benefit from a healing session, including withdrawal from social interactions, having nightmares, regressing into thumb-sucking or bed-wetting, and refusing to leave their parents side.

For more information or to schedule a session, you can call the 360 Youth Services’ counseling department at 630-717-9408, extension 115, or visit their website, www.ncoyouth.org.

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