Terrez McCleary knows firsthand the trauma and despair that kids go through when they have lost a loved one due to gun violence. McCleary’s daughter had been shot and killed, leaving behind Ghazala Washington, McCleary’s granddaughter, who was only two years old at the time. In 2017, McCleary co-founded Moms Bonded by Grief, which is a support group for families that have lost people they love to gun violence. Last summer, McCleary and other grieving mothers organized a retreat in the Pocono Mountains for children in Philadelphia who had been impacted by gun violence. The retreat was meant to provide an opportunity for the children to see that there was more to life than violence and a chance to talk with grief counselors. “If these children do not get help, they’re going to self-destruct,” McCleary said. “For someone to violently take your parent from you, it builds up anger.” The organizers want the children to be happy and to receive the help that they need. As stated by McCleary, “I wanted to let them know: Your pain is normal. You’re not alone.”

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