Kidshops focus on mental illness

NAMI Southeast Minnesota's Kidshops offers support to kids whose lives are affected by mental illness. Offered twice a year, the half-day program provides kids with an opportunity to learn more about mental illness, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and anxiety, in a safe, confidential, fun setting.

"Sometimes kids feel a lot of shame. We let kids know that mental illness is a brain disease and that it shouldn't be seen as any different than if a family member had diabetes," says Sue Morrison, public health nurse and Kidshops volunteer classroom facilitator. "Some kids come into the day extremely savvy. They know their parent or sibling's diagnosis and even their medications. Others just know that something is going on."

Kidshops is open to students ages 7 to 18 and incorporates age-appropriate language and materials. The workshops are led by trained volunteer classroom facilitators, all of whom have a relative living with mental illness.

"Our facilitators live this personally," says Morrison, a mom to five, including an adult daughter living with mental illness. "One of the workshop facilitators is my grown son. His whole life he had a sister who suffered from a mental illness. He can tell the kids 'I know what it's like. I know what you are going through.'"

Following the educational piece, the kids will have fun with games, team-building activities and a free pizza lunch. During all of that, they will have the opportunity to share their family's story with kids who are living a similar story.


"Statistically, one out of four families is affected by mental illness," Morrison says. "It places tremendous strain on families. Even the youngest of children benefits from information on mental illness. They need to know what's going on and that it's not their fault."

Kidshops is free, but registration is required. Call to reserve your child's spot.

Build on this

Take a handful of bricks and see what you can create at the Rochester Public Library's LEGO® Fun program. Offered twice on Sept. 25 (first at 1 p.m. for homeschoolers and then at 4 p.m. for all the rest), kids can create using the library's challenge idea of the day or come up an idea on their own.

Sponsored by the Friends of the Library, the program is free and LEGOs® are provided. Geared toward students in grades 2-5. Upcoming LEGO® Fun programs are scheduled for Oct. 9, Oct. 23, Nov. 13, Nov. 27, and Dec. 11. For more information, visit or call 328-2303.

Looking for other ways to challenge your kids? Check out the library's Chess Club for kids in grades 2-6, offered several Tuesdays — Oct. 2, Oct. 16, Nov. 6, Nov. 30, Dec. 4, and Dec. 18 — at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. No registration required and it's free.


I found it


Follow the directions and you'll find treasure at Oxbow Park's Beginning Geocaching program. Families will be given a basic introduction to geocaching and a handheld GPS unit. From there it's off on a scavenger hunt for hidden treasure throughout the zoo. Geared toward family members ages 8 and older. Free. Space limited. Call 775-2451 to save your spot.

Oxbow Park's Zollman Zoo is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are welcome. Go online, to check out this and other zoo programs, including Wildflower Identification, Feed the Critters, and Children's Zoo Time.


Donations needed

Give what you can at Channel One's Fill the Truck event. Held from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday at Cub Foods, 1021 15th Ave. S.E., nonperishable food donations will be collected and then distributed to local families through the Channel One Supplemental Food Shelf program. Some of the most needed items include canned tuna, peanut butter, canned fruit, pasta, cereal and rice.

Find out more about this and other Channel One opportunities — including Family Volunteer Days, when children in grades K-12 and their families are invited to volunteer at the Channel One Regional Food Bank — at




Spend time together at PAIIR's TGIF — Those Great Informational Fridays. The parent-child classes are held 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Fridays through Dec. 14 (but no class Oct. 19 or Nov. 23).

Classes are open to parents with kids ages birth through kindergarten. Parents spend part of the morning playing with their child and part of it in an adult-only parent discussion led by a PAIIR licensed parent educator.

Call PAIIR, 328-4020, to register for any or all of the TGIF classes. Cost is $8 for your first child and $6.50 for each additional sibling. If needed, PAIIR can help with class cost or transportation. 

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