GSP Champions has over 50 children the youngest is 10 months old and the eldest in her teens. The program was birthed 7 years ago, March 21st 2010, after the passing of my son-in-law, Junior Lawes was shot and murdered. My grandson was 8 years old at the time and my daughter who had only been married for 3 months became a widow at the age of 27. She became a single parent having to raise her son alone. The shock, pain and lose took its toll on a young woman who was once a vibrant, active, strong, young woman and an innocent 8-year-old boy that words could not describe. The police report stated that there were no gang affiliations and that my son-in-law was an innocent by-stander of a shooting drive by. After watching my daughter and grandson go through such a traumatic experience and finding out after research that there was no one place in Bermuda that a family could go to get help for the various challenges families face when they lose a family member to gun violence.
GSP started the champions program to provide support for children to deal with grief and loss after losing a family member to homicide. Whenever there is a shooting murder and there are children involved we are called in to provide support and advice to the parent or guardian of the surviving child or children. Upon our visit we provide a care package to meet the specific needs of the family; each family is different. We have a clinician who provides the child with support before during and after the funeral. We also provide follow up support sessions on a per needs basis. We have just recently partnered with Comfort Zone one of the world’s largest bereavement camps for children. On August 25th of this year GSP sent our first child along with our clinician and the surviving parent to attend Comfort Zone camp in Boston. Our goal is to bring the comfort zone program to Bermuda and train Bermudians to run the program to assist children to deal with grief and loss. GSP identified that need and have provided the support for children impacted by gun violence. All of our services and programs are free thanks to the generous donations we receive from donors, sponsors and private citizens of Bermuda. We also have over 30 volunteers which include an office administrator and clinician who specializes in youth and trauma. Tonight we encourage you to join us by getting involved, signing up to volunteer, making a donation and supporting us to continue to provide help and support to our Bermudian children and families impacted by gun violence.