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The Dougy Center in Inner Southeast is testing the use of 'comforting' toys for grieving kids

DAVID F. ASHTON - At a special storytime at The Dougy Center, Slumberkins founder Kelly Oriard reads to kids - introducing the companys new snugglers toy, named Sprite. The founders of Vancouver-based "Slumberkins" have developed what they call "snugglers" – toys to support specific social-emotional situations, providing parents and caregivers with resources to promote positive skills for young children.

The co-founders of the company came to The Dougy Center for Grieving Children & Families on S.E. 52nd Avenue last spring to engage the children there in their program using a "storytime" – but more, to donate a special "Slumberkins" toy to the 120 participants to take home.

"Partly, the idea to create ''Slumberkins' – especially 'Sprite', which we're introducing here today – came from when I did my Masters work in Family Therapy with the Dougy Center's longtime past Executive Director Donna Schuurman, PhD," explained company co-founder Kelly Oriard.

"Donna led my course on 'Grief and Loss', and was completely inspiring," Oriard said. "What I learned about grief and loss, especially with kids, is something I took with me in my career of being a therapist."

She and her business partner, Callie Christiansen, came up with a line of "snugglers" and books to help parents connect with young children on several topics. "This one, 'Sprite', is a tool that parents can use to help open up conversations around grief."

Specifically, "Sprite" has an "affirmation to share, helping children understand that, while a loved one may no longer be by our side, they are still in our hearts," explained Oriard. "Sprite's story is shared in an accompanying book, written to help explain grief, and to show little ones the memory of a loved one will always be with us."

Because the toy company partners revere the work done by The Dougy Center here in Southeast Portland – as well as their work with the National Center for Grieving Children & Families – they decided to give "Sprite" packages to local kids.

"Having worked together preparing the book and 'Sprite', we believe this set is, and will be, a wonderful addition for our kids – helping fulfill The Dougie Center's mission of providing safe support to grieving kids and families," acknowledged the Center's Executive Director, Brennan Wood.

Judging by how the youths took to their new-found cuddly creatures, the gift was well received.

To learn more about "Slumberkins", go online – https://www.slumberkins.com

And to learn more about The Dougy Center, visit their website – https://www.dougy.org


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