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Kimberly Ewertz has found that outside support is lacking for children who are in the middle of their parents’ separation, so the Gilroy resident set out to create some local resources.

In late 2020, she released “Family Redefined: Childhood Reflections on the Impact of Divorce,” a book that consists of interviews with children of divorced parents, with the hope that it will help provide a roadmap to children and parents going through this experience.

But Ewertz said she wanted to go further. In 2022, she worked with the Discovery Counseling Center in Morgan Hill to provide an eight-week session geared toward children ages 8-12 who are having a difficult time processing their parents’ divorce.

Following the completion of the sessions at Nordstrom Elementary School, one boy, who had remained quiet through the weeks, turned around just as he was about to walk out the door and hugged Ewertz.

With that simple gesture, Ewertz said she knew the program was successful.

She now plans to grow the support group, and starting Feb. 28, The Neutral Zone will launch at the Gilroy Library, 350 W. Sixth St.

The group, open for all children ages 8-12, will meet Tuesdays through April 25 from 3:30-4:30pm in-person at the Gilroy Library’s Study Room B, with no meeting on April 4 due to spring break.

“This is a safe space, where they can come and be themselves,” Ewertz said. “This is a chance for them to sit back and take a breath.”

Each session will offer an activity to help children open up about the troubles they are facing. For instance, the group will be given a bag of Skittles candy, with each color representing an emotion, where the children are encouraged to share a memory attributed to such a feeling.

At the end of each meeting, the participants will be given an object as a physical symbol of what was discussed, such as a glue stick, representing that “we all stick together,” Ewertz said.

Ewertz encouraged parents to sign up their child for all eight sessions if they are able to. While not required to attend each meeting, each session builds off the previous one.

“Support is the biggest thing they need,” she said. “If you have these outside resources for kids to go to, it’s going to help them transition through this very difficult time. They know they aren’t alone.”

The Neutral Zone is sponsored by the Gilroy Library, and will be headed up by Ewertz and two volunteer counselors. To register, visit bit.ly/3YOt0wo.

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Erik Chalhoub joined Weeklys as an editor in 2019. Prior to his current position, Chalhoub worked at The Pajaronian in Watsonville for seven years, serving as managing editor from 2014-2019.

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