School system helps kids cope with loss of two students - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

School system helps kids cope with loss of two students

Nordalie Douglas (Source: Novelyn Douglas) Nordalie Douglas (Source: Novelyn Douglas)
Zakoya Bankston (Source: Muscogee County School District) Zakoya Bankston (Source: Muscogee County School District)
Mackayla Gulley (Source: Muscogee County School District) Mackayla Gulley (Source: Muscogee County School District)
Source: Novelyn Douglas Source: Novelyn Douglas

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) – As a community mourns the loss of a mother and her two daughters in a house fire. Neighbors and the Muscogee County School District are working to help children cope with the loss of their friends. 

Tomela Roberson describes two little girls who lived just down the street from her.

"Energetic.  I mean normal, normal kids. [They were] sweet little girls, very respectful," said Roberson.

 She says she and her 6 year old son, Gabreon Harrison, are struggling with this tragic loss.

"They told me it was Mackayla.  That's when I got sad," said Harrison.

The sisters, Mackayla Gulley, 6, and Zakoya Bankston, 10, and their mother, Nordalie Douglas, 32, died early Tuesday morning after their house caught fire on Decatur Street in Columbus.

Now, neighborhood kids, like Harrison, say their group is missing two little friends.

"Because that was my best friend."

Harrison also went to Brewer Elementary with the two girls.

"My son did say the teachers spoke to them and explained to them about it at school today.  [They explained] the loss of loved ones and the loss of friends."

The Muscogee County School District has counselors and social workers ready to talk with any student about their loss.

Carmen Weeks, a school counselor for Reese Road Leadership Academy, talked to us about how important this is for the kids.

"A loss is going to be significant at any age.  So, yes, children sometimes don't know how to vocalize themselves.  They don't know what to say.  They don't know how to feel," said Weeks.

Weeks encourages parents like Roberson to also be involved as their children mourn.

"Talk about the loss. Talk about the person.  Try to celebrate their life, but most important try to be there with the child to give them some support."

Roberson says she is counting her blessings while trying to understand why the sweet girls down the road are gone so soon.

Douglas has a big family originally from Jamaica and now living in North Carolina.  The father of one of the children was at Fort Benning but is deployed now. The family will be coming to Columbus later this week to make arrangements for the girls and the mother.

Copyright 2011 WTVM. All rights reserved.

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