What can we do about trauma? A whole school, whole child approach

A growing body of research has shown us just how common experiences of trauma and adversity in childhood are, as well as the staggering impact they can have on lifelong health and well-being. This week, we’ve been sharing some of the ways a trauma-informed approach is influencing public health. Yesterday’s blog featured one local model of how communities are building connections to foster resilience.

Today, we turn to Best Starts for Kids to see how fostering resilience and healing can look in action, particularly within school settings. For young people to be engaged in school, they need to feel they belong, are seen and heard, and that what they are learning is relevant to their identities. Here are just a few examples of how schools and community partners across our region are making this happen:

Excerpts from Best Starts for Kids Blog

Building trusting relationships: A partnership between Unleash the Brilliance, Madrona Elementary and Cascade Middle School in Auburn brings parents and students together for small group discussions. Topics include naming and regulating emotions, managing conflict, addressing complex racial trauma, and building trusting relationships with peers and adults. The project also includes mentoring throughout the school day so that students have daily, positive interactions with a trusted community member.

Supporting students and families: In another innovative program, the NAACP has partnered with the Seattle Council PTSA on a two-fold strategy focusing on educating and healing adults and strengthening youth voice. Families are invited to circle chats that facilitate healing and improve parents’ and caregivers’ ability to partner with schools and effectively advocate for the educational outcomes of their students. NAACP Youth Coalition (NY-C) youth leaders are elevating their voice to identify issues most important to them such as empowerment, race, social justice, racial trauma, and equity, and share their experiences with their communities, key stakeholders, and leaders.

A member of the NAACP Youth Action Coalition speaking at the Seattle School Board meeting as part of Black Lives Matter at School Week.

Collective storytelling: Partners in Education Reform and the American History Travelling Museum are working with local schools to lead collective storytelling with elders in the community. The partnership builds understanding of the impacts of historical adversity.

Peer mediation: Dispute Resolution Center of King County, Showalter Middle School in Tukwila, Bridging Cultural Gaps, and the East African community are working together to establish a peer mediation program and to hold restorative circles in classrooms. The project will also convene staff learning circles to expand trauma understanding.

You can read more about these  and other trauma-informed and restorative practices in schools throughout King County at the Best Starts for Kids blog.

Originally posted April 3, 2019