15 Aug 2018
Trauma-Informed Schools are Helping At-Risk Students Thrive
LANCASTER, Calif. (August 15, 2018) – Marcus, 16, was being abused by his stepfather and regularly saw the man hurt his mother. Amanda, 15, was five months pregnant and hiding it from her family. The single mother of Jason, 17, had a drug problem and often couldn’t afford to buy food or pay the utility bills. These all-too-common situations are forms of chronic trauma that interfere with a child’s ability to learn and function in school. Trauma can cause anxiety, impulsivity, aggression, sleep problems, depression and physical ailments.
The good news is that educators are finding that a trauma-informed (TI) approach to learning is showing amazing results. “We know that traumatized children who are able to thrive have someone in their life who encourages them and believes in their success,” explained Craig Beswick, TI educator with Learn4Life. “For many of our students, we are that support and we make sure that this is a constant part of their experience here.”
Learn4Life focuses on at-risk students, most of whom suffer from some kind of trauma. Its unique model focuses on the social-emotional needs of the students first, then follows trauma-informed guidelines of the nationally recognized Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Connection. It works to eliminate many of the challenges and distractions in students’ lives by lining up community resources to assist them with food, transportation and childcare, or providing extra counseling. They have found that once the trauma-induced symptoms are addressed, the students’ learning capacity greatly increases.
“An essential component is teaching kids coping skills and anger management so they develop resiliency to handle life’s ups and downs even after they graduate from our program,” Beswick said. “We find meditation, yoga and other practices of self-awareness are new to most of our students and they respond very positively rather quickly.”
Organizations that provide trauma-informed care – like education, healthcare, first responders and veterans – were given a boost to awareness recently in a CBS “60-Minutes” segment hosted by Oprah Winfrey in which she described TI care as a “game changer.” She acknowledged that she survived her traumatic childhood thanks to a teacher who mentored her and taught her to be resilient.
Learn4Life’s model, which incorporates personalized learning, one-on-one attention and a trauma-informed approach to learning, is changing the lives of thousands of students.
Ann Abajian, Learn4Life