Kyle's Korner is the work and creation of dedicated bereavement specialists within the Milwaukee area community who are committed to supporting grieving families with young children.
In 1998, Lynda Gruenewald-Schmitz, an experienced hospice nurse and administrator, recognized the unmet need for specialized support for grieving children and their parents within the area community. Later that year, on December 4, 1998, Kathy Stephenson was killed on her way to work in a car accident caused by a drunk driver coming home from a company holiday party. She was only 25 years old and she left behind her grieving family including her 3 small children (ages 5, 2 and 16 months). Lynda's son attended kindergarten with the oldest child, Kyle. While offering support to Kathy's family, Lynda was inspired with Kyle as she interacted with him while observing his grief through play and art.
Lynda began networking within the community to elicit support for a unique bereavement program, based on the Dougy Center, offering children a supportive environment through play and trained facilitators. It was decided the program would be named Kyle's Korner in honor of Kathy Stephenson and her grieving children. It was felt that Kyle and his siblings well represented the community's bereaved children and their specialized needs for grief following the death of a parent.
Today, the medical and mental health, school and justice communities have an awareness and respect for the work done at Kyle's Korner. The Center serves as an important and unique community resource.
Local Program Need
Studies in the United States show that 1 out of every 25 children experience the death of a parent by the age of 15. One out of every 6 children experiences the death of a grandparent, parent, sibling or friend by the age of 10. In Wisconsin, there were a total of 46,571 deaths in 1999; 888 were children. Milwaukee County experienced 10,465 deaths in 2000. In the City of Milwaukee, there were a total of 5,359 deaths in the same year; 198 were children.
If each death affects at least 2 children and 4 adults within the immediate family, then Milwaukee County has 20,930 grieving children and 41,860 grieving adults in the year 2000 alone. Consider the effects of these deaths on children, parents, grandparents, teachers, classmates, church members, scout troops, sports teams, best friends...
Research has shown that death of a parent, a sibling or anyone else significant to the child or teen, affects the school performance, emotional stability, mental health, behavioral problems and other relationships of a child.
Currently, there are very limited ongoing grief counseling programs specifically for children and teens who have experienced the death of a loved one in the Milwaukee area.