LOWELL -- The Greater Lowell Community Foundation announced Friday it has formed a fund to support programs targeted to help children cope with the psychological effects of the Boston Marathon bombings.
"The horrific tragedy of this senseless act of terrorism has been difficult for all of us," said Executive Director Ray Riddick. "The Greater Lowell Community Foundation is dedicated to supporting the emotional health of the innocent victims of this tragic event and providing our next generation with the resources they need to work through the resulting trauma."
The GLCF will make a cornerstone donation of $25,000 to the "Supporting Children After the Bombing Fund."
It will solicit proposals from public, private and parochial schools and youth service providers to help develop programs that will address children's psychological needs.
While Riddick said the foundation encourages people to donate to the One Fund, a fund set up by Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino to help those impacted by the bombings, Riddick said the foundation wanted to do something in addition to that, especially for children who have been affected.
"We thought if there was some unique way to address their needs we would like to pursue it," Riddick said.
He spoke with local headmasters, school superintendents and Dr. Mary Anna Sullivan, a psychiatrist at Lahey Hospital, who served on the Lowell School Committee with Riddick years ago.
"People haven't really addressed the issue of the after-effects on kids," Riddick said. "There aren't a lot of systems or programs in place to address the needs of these kids."
The American Psychological Association encourages parents to talk with their children, keep home a safe place, watch for signs of stress, fear or anxiety and limit the amount of time children spend watching news about the traumatic event, according to its website.
Changes in behavior, appetite and sleep patterns can indicate a child's level of grief, anxiety or discomfort. Children who have had a past traumatic experience or personal loss, suffer from depression or other mental illness or with special needs may be at a greater risk for severe reactions than others, according to the National Association of School Psychologists.
Donations to the Supporting Children After the Bombing Fund can be made at glcfoundation.org or by sending a contribution to Greater Lowell Community Foundation, 100 Merrimack St., Suite 22 Lowell, MA 01852.
Riddick said he hopes to begin to accept applications from schools and organizations interested in getting programs funded.
The money raised for the fund will go to organizations providing programming for the cause.
GLCF is a philanthropic agency that connects donors to a wide range of charities, nonprofit organizations, community groups and students in almost three dozen communities.
"We want to get out there and provide leadership in the community," Riddick said. "We think this is an issue we can provide leadership."
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