I have been so fortunate to have heard so many of these children’s “stories”. Some children come running into the center and yell, “Stupid Fire!” And then immediately engage in play. Some children express minor details of the fire during dramatic play and then quickly state, “And that’s the end of that story.” While other children sit and tell you every detail of their experience. I again, cannot truly express how fortunate I feel to be able to be that listening ear.
One school-aged child verbalized every loss she experienced and truly went full-circle in her story telling. She informed me of every detail leading up to the fire, the suddenness of the fire, her fears/worries, the items they grabbed running out the door, and the deep loss they experienced. She went even further to express her excitement of finalizing a home for them to stay in and how happy she was to finally have her own room (she has a family full of brothers!!). She told her entire story, all while intently focusing on making a very detailed rubber band bracelet. This young girl came very prepared to the LAC, with an activity bag provided from her community. She would have been perfectly “occupied” the entire visit had she not visited our center. However, I cannot help but think, how emotionally safe and protected she must have felt in order to tell us her entire story. For this, I am so thankful that the disaster community values the importance of play and a protected environment for children. I am relieved seeing children already processing their stories using so many different modalities of play and expression. I hope these children and families continue to receive all of the support, care and resources that they need.