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Kenton County program helps youngsters with incarcerated parents learn to cope with stress

Courageous Kids meets monthly at Erlanger library
NKY program helps kids with jailed parents cope
Posted at 7:08 AM, Jan 15, 2018

ERLANGER, Ky. -- Kentucky leads the nation in the number of children with incarcerated parents -- 13 percent -- which can take a toll on these young people.

"It impacts their brain," said Lise Tewes, children's services coordinator for the Erlanger branch of the Kenton County Public Library. "Brains don't grow when they're bathed in adrenaline, which is what stress creates. So we have to help them manage that stress or they can't learn. And that's the domino effect that you don't want to happen."

That's why they started Courageous Kids in September 2017. It's a one-of-a-kind program to help kids whose parents are in jail. The library partnered with Kenton County Schools, Erlanger-Elsmere Schools and Catholic Charities to help kids meet once monthly for stress-relieving activities and to bond over their common hardship.

They quickly expanded the program to all children experiencing stress. 

"They need to learn to handle it in a healthy way," Tewes said. "There were children having these problems in their families, and there's nothing around this area to help children with that kind of problem."

Fifth-grader Kathryn Gutierrez, 10, attends Courageous Kids. She said the program helps her cope with personal issues.

"When I was in third grade, I was bullied. Right now, I have depression, and it's a little difficult to go through it," Gutierrez said. "(The activities) are good to calm yourself down. It helps with stress, and I have a lot of personal problems in my life."

The Courageous Kids program has activities planned through May including art therapy, drum therapy, gardening and meeting miniature therapy horses. The group gathers the second Thursday of the month at the Erlanger branch of the Kenton County Public Library. It's open to any child at no cost. No registration is required. Contact the library at 859-962-4147 with any questions.