Everyone experiences distressing events in their lives. You’ve probably heard about trauma, the emotional response to these events. Our emotional reactions can have long term effects on the way we think, make decisions, and relate to others. Resilience, our natural ability to cope with stress, helps moderate how we respond to adversity. During the 2018-2019 school year, Sanchia A Callender, Inc and our partners worked with Syracuse City School District’s Parent University to equip caregivers of school-aged children and youth, with the resources to recognize trauma driven behavior and build resilience.
The Resilient CNY Trauma-Sensitive Community project started with a recognition that Syracuse’s students and their families needed help in figuring out how to deal with the challenges they regularly experience. I asked Superintendent Jaime Alicea why he found the message about the need to address trauma compelling enough to dedicate district resources to the cause long term. He noted the loss of people, students, that couldn’t be ignored. “Syracuse is a small town,” he said as we chatted in his office in July. “Everything is connected.”
Parent participants in the project found it equally compelling. “We should all do this before we go out in the world to meet people,” reported one parent after the second week of reading Transforming the Difficult Child for book club. We sat around a table in the Sankofa room of Beauchamp Library sharing our thoughts about the week’s reading that focused on recognition, appreciation, attention, trust, and connectedness. We created the book to meet the need for year-round support for learning to build and maintain the kinds of relationships that serve as protective factors against Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) and trauma.
During the year-long planning and implementation process of this project, we utilized the support of the Gifford Foundation’s What If Mini-Grant served as a booster for creating change in our community. Our organization is growing thanks to their help. We’ve added two new board members and established relationships with other community partners who share our focus on creating a vibrant community. We are continuing the work of increasing our capacity to build resilience in our community.
Persistence pays off.