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Raising money to help kids’ mental health

With a pandemic, illness and everyday life worries, a local fundraising group is doing what they can to improve children’s mental health.

The Esprit de Coeur Circle of The King’s Daughters is planning a fundraiser to provide funding for art therapy at the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters.

Esprit de Coeur is French for the spirit of the heart and is a local fundraising circle for CHKD made up of members based in Suffolk, Portsmouth and the Western Branch area. There are more than 50 circles that raise money and have been since the late 1800s.

“It is amazing work,” said Barbara Cooper, leader of the Esprit de Coeur Circle.

With The King’s Daughters’ circles shifting their focus to mental health, the fundraising money will go to the Art Therapy Program at CHKD to provide a part-time worker and supplies.

The Esprit de Coeur Circle has focused on providing support for the Child Life Department at Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters for the last eight years. Last year, one of the recreational therapists in the circle realized that there was no art therapy program for the kids. Art therapy uses various forms of art to stimulate the brain and muscles to initiate physical and mental healing in patients.

“The money we’ve raised has funded a part-time art therapist who goes in one day a week to the different departments to do art therapy projects with the kids,” said Cooper. “The money also goes towards her supplies so that way the division doesn’t have to dip into other funds and can be self-sufficient.”

This position was able to start last year after the circle raised $17,000 at their socially distant golf fundraiser. With the previous year’s success despite the pandemic, the circle is optimistic about this year’s success.

“As a circle, we are always optimistic,” said Cooper. “Last year, despite COVID, we were still able to have 125 golfers when in previous years we’ve had 145. Being outdoors and not in each other’s faces, we were still able to do something.”

The fundraising event for 2021 is scheduled for a two-day event on June 17 and 18 called “Par-Tee On for the Kids.” The first night on June 17, there will be a silent auction with food, music, a guest emcee and a speaker from CHKD. On June 18, there will be a golf tournament as well as a helicopter golf ball drop.

Smaller fundraising events are also in the works, including local businesses doing a Change for Children round-up in May and November.

To follow the details to come about these fundraising events, follow Esprit de Coeur on Facebook to stay in the know.