Kids Get Stressed Too program goes virtual thanks to United Way grant

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Coping with COVID-19 brings mental burdens like worry, frustration, and loneliness to everyone, including children. The Self-Management Program of Southeastern Ontario (SMPSO), housed at the Kingston Community Health Centres (KCHC) helps equip children with the tools to cope and manage stress.

SMPSO is proud to announce that new funding received from the United Way of Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington in the second funding round of federal Emergency Community Support Fund will ensure that registration for the Kids Get Stressed Too (KGST) program will continue to be open to all children between the ages of 6-12 in the KFL&A and South East regions, at no cost, according to a release from KCHC dated Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020.

KGST is a six-week, virtual program including cognitive reframing, mindful breathing, visualization, yoga, dance, humour, and communication to help children understand stress and regulate their emotions, according to the release. Originally run by the Kingston Branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association, KGST transitioned to SMPSO ownership to complement their existing catalog of self-management workshops in August of 2020. Building off last year’s progress, KCHC says the program will provide much-needed support to children during a time of constant change.

“Whether your child is at home, in the classroom, or online, stress is a constant factor that can impact physical and mental development.” says Constantin Mugenga, Regional Program Administrator, Self-Management Program of Southeastern Ontario. “With all the lifestyle changes occurring during COVID-19 it’s easy to forget about the stress children face in their daily routine.”

Having already adapted over ten other Self-Management Programs to a virtual format, trained facilitators at KGST & SMPSO are uniquely positioned to deliver their evidence-based self-management expertise across Southeastern Ontario, according to the release. Coinciding with the increased use of e-learning in the education system, KGST’s new virtual format will build emotional resiliency and increase capacity for self-regulation through a medium which is being used more every day. KCHC says the online format of KGST will also provide a safe and effective way to connect and empower participants as they encounter new environments and sources of stress.

“Managing stress and emotions doesn’t happen overnight; it’s learned and practiced over time.” says Mugenga. “The virtual format is a new approach that will allow us to continue teaching kids valuable self-management skills that will help them grow and mature into adulthood. It’s a fun and enjoyable way to set kids up for success.”

To continue running the program, KGST is seeking sustainable funds to deliver the program and extend the reach to more children. Registration takes place online at and on a first-come, first served basis. When safely possible, the program will begin offering in-person delivery once more, in addition to maintaining an online option for ease of family scheduling, KHCH said in the release.

Reach out to Constantin Mugenga at [email protected] for more information, funding opportunities, or to host a session at your own organization or school.

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