As Naperville continues to mourn the loss of Olivia Dworakowski, 5, and Justin Plackowska, 7, who were tragically murdered Oct. 30, one local organization is reaching out to the community to provide emotional support.
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From parents to classmates, those who personally knew Olivia and Justin were perhaps hit hardest by their deaths, which is why 360 Youth Services is offering free "healing sessions" for those close to the children.
"This isn't getting into counseling or any of those things, they're really just healing sessions," said 360 Youth Services executive director Ron Hume. "Anything that folks need that will help them as they struggle with this difficulty, we want to be there to provide."
The organization is offering two free services geared toward parents and children who attend either Brookdale or Scott Elementary, where Olivia and Justin went to school.
The sessions are available now until Dec. 31 and held at 360 Youth Services Counseling Department, 1935 Brookdale Rd., Suite 119.
For Hume, last month's tragedy had a profound impact after he witnessed people of all ages grieving during a candlelight vigil for Justin and Olivia on Nov. 2.
"As I was standing there looking around the crowd - I saw parents, I saw children - and you could just feel how upset the community was by this," he said. "It had a profound impact on the parents of the crowd as you listened to them talk and I kind of felt the emotion. And that's when we got the idea and said, 'we have to do something.'"
While Hume admits the organization's resources are limited, he said he wants to lend a hand to as many members of the community as possible.
Hume added that 360 Youth Services is also looking into holding a large group session, bringing children and parents together.
360 Youth Services has been providing Naperville with prevention education, counseling and shelter for more than 40 years. The organization's local experts in childhood trauma and family stress have also been working closely with both Naperville School District 203 and Indian Prairie District 204 in the wake of the murders.
Healing sessions for children, parents and families at Scott and Brookdale Elementary Schools can call the 360 Youth Services Counseling Department at 630-717-9408, Ext. 115.
For more information, visit www.360youthservices.org.
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