Girl Scout’s project helps grieving kids

03/25/2014 12:00 AM

03/24/2014 4:43 PM

When Meagan Gardner visited The WARM Place in Fort Worth, she knew that was where she wanted to have a positive impact.

Meagan, a 16-year-old junior at Timber Creek High School, visited several community service organizations when she was looking for a project for the Girl Scout Gold Award.

“When I came here it was different,” Meagan said. “They’re like a giant family. They were so open. When I came up with my design, they really liked it.”

Meagan created a memory art wall for children who receive grief support services at The WARM Place and a volunteer recognition wall for those who have helped out for five or more years. Earlier this month, Meagan, her mom Mary Gardner and Craig Williams of Saginaw, a family friend and carpenter, installed the projects in a hallway at The WARM Place.

The memory art wall features four giant wooden hearts, each with 20 to 30 5x7 frames to hold artwork.

As part of their counseling, children participate in art therapy.

“I know they like to draw and color, and it’s fun for them to see their art on the wall,” Meagan said.

Shelley Spikes, public relations director for The WARM Place, said the artwork on the hearts would be rotated every quarter to feature art from four different age groups who participate in grief support sessions.

The first group featured was the center’s youngest clients. Kids in kindergarten through third grade used colorful fingerprints, crayons and markers to make valentines in memory of their loved ones. Each week, The WARM Place serves about 375 children and young adults grieving the loss of a parent or sibling. Since it opened 25 year ago, the organization has served more than 30,000 kids and their families.

The volunteer recognition wall included dozens of small painted hearts on plexiglass. Names of volunteers can be placed on individual hearts and rotated for years of service.

Meagan said that the projects needed to be ongoing and sustainable to meet the provisions of the Gold Award. Similar to the Boy Scout’s Eagle Award, a Gold Award is Girl Scout’s highest achievement. The honor challenges scouts to “change the world, or at least your corner of it,” according to the Girl Scout website, Meagan had to log at least 80 hours working on the project. Winners are also eligible for college scholarships.

Spending time at The WARM Place has Meagan thinking about a new career option: play therapist. She’s also considering pediatric nursing.

“I want to work with kids,” Meagan said.

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