Kids use "Kourage Camp" to overcome grief

By Beau Ebenezer

October 5, 2013 Updated Oct 9, 2013 at 12:16 PM CDT

LOWPOINT, Ill. -- Organizers, volunteers, and participants in this year's "Kourage Kids Camp" all shared something in common.

They all lost someone close to their hearts at a very young age.

The annual Kourage Kids Camp was created to help children and teens from ages 5 to 18 deal with the grief associated with such a loss.

"It's just really one of those days when kids get a chance to heal, and I remember back in my days when I was younger, I didn't have that opportunity," said camp coordinator, Frank Valente. "My dad died when I was about 15. There wasn't anything like this."

Thanks to Unity Point Health-Methodist and Hospice, 60 kids were able to deal with their own grief on Saturday.

They participated in various activities including face painting, mini-golfing, and driving remote control cars.

Getting over various aspects of grief is what helped 11-year-old Omaryen Defrance come out of his shell.

Omaryen lost his baby brother last year, the day after he was born, due to illness.

"I kind of closed myself out a lot. I really wasn't hanging out with my friends as much as I used to," said Omaryen. "But while I was going through the grief, I kind of thought to myself, If my brother was still alive would I be excluding myself from the outside world? I thought, no so I started hanging out with my friends like I used to."

This is Omaryen's second year at the camp, and like many others he's looking at positives in his life.

Some of the camp volunteers are now taking their positive experience as a child to help others.

Volunteer Stephanie Domnick was an original Kourage Kid herself when the camp first started.

"When I was around four years old, my mother died of cancer," said Domnick. "When I came here, I knew that I was okay, and things will get better. Everything will get better if you have hope."