I learned a bit about the Dougy Center Walker’s House in Canby recently. It’s located in a house across from Wait Park on 4th Street, and my orthodontist office used to be there in the late 80s!
The mission of The Dougy Center is to provide support in
a safe place where children, teens, young adults and their
families grieving a death can share their experiences.
The Dougy Center, the first center in the United States to provide peer support groups for grieving children, was founded in 1982. A courageous boy named Dougy Turno died of an inoperable brain tumor at the age of 13. In the two months prior to his death, he was a patient at Oregon Health Sciences University, where Beverly Chappell, at the request of Swiss psychiatrist and pioneer in the field of death, dying and bereavement, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, supported Dougy and his family during his treatment. Bev quickly observed Dougy’s ability to bond with other teens facing serious medical issues, how he intuitively knew he was dying, and how he helped other kids talk about their fears. After his death, Bev envisioned a place where children, teens, and their parents coping with the death of a family member, could share their experience with others who understood, who didn’t tell them to “get over it” or judge how they chose to grieve. The first grief support groups met in Bev’s home and has grown from that grassroots effort to become a sought after resource for children and families who are grieving. It is still the only year-round child-centered program offering peer support groups to grieving families in our community.