Written by Laurenne Hamlin

After the death of a loved one, children are often overwhelmed with many different feelings. Children often struggle as they think about their deceased loved ones, and those memories can be painful. One of the things that we work on at Ryan’s Place is helping children learn to associate positive feelings when they think about memories of their loved ones. One of the activities that we use to accomplish this is our Legacy Badge activity.

The legacy badge activity focuses on what kind of legacy the child’s loved one left in the world. As a group the facilitators lead a discussion about what the word legacy means and then share some examples with the children of different legacies that people might leave in the world. The children then get a chance to share with the group what kind of legacy their loved one was known for. For example one child stated that their mother was always kind to everyone so her legacy is kindness.

The children then get the chance to make badges, similar to a sheriff’s badge or a fair ribbon, that represents their loved ones legacy. They are provided with all of the supplies, including felt, glue, glitter, paint and markers. This is where we let kids use their creativity to express themselves and how they want to display the legacy of their loved one. Once their badge is done a safety pin is hot glued to the back so that the child can proudly show the legacy that their loved left in the world.

Every now and then we will have a child who might not know their loved one’s legacy. They might have been very young when their loved one died or they might have had a baby sibling die. When this happens we have that child focus on what they want their own personal legacy to be in the world.

The group then shares their badges with each other and explains the meaning behind their choice of words and their choice of how they decorated their Legacy Badge. The point of this activity is not to create a beautiful badge (although they always do) but instead to have each child really think about the different ways their loved one impacted the world.