The Sandy Hook Columbine Cooperative is taking steps to ensure that trauma does not dull the light of hope in children
There are children all over the United States who are dealing with the trauma of a life changing event. Whether they witness the death of a loved one, survived a natural disaster or were a victim in a school shooting, many children are facing a lifetime of healing. While there are many resources aiming to help children and citizens cope with traumatizing events, many are difficult to understand. Sandy Hook Columbine Cooperative (SHCC) intends to make this process easier.
After Carly and Dave Posey dealt firsthand with the trauma of their son witnessing the Sandy Hook school shooting in his classroom and among his friends, they knew they wanted to create an easily accessible source for families to find answers and recover. “We realized that we wanted to turn this bad experience into a positive experience, and that was helping others through what we had learned and been through,” says Carly. The Posey’s now live in Parker where both they and their children are looking for a new beginning and to help create the same for local children dealing with trauma.
The Posey’s met with a parent of Columbine survivor, Carolyn Lunsford Mears, PhD and came to the conclusion that others would benefit from a website that gives information in a way that people could understand and their nonprofit, Sandy Hook Columbine Cooperative (SHCC), was born. Working with parents of Columbine seemed like a no-brainer since they both had the same mission in mind. Being able to connect their stories to SHCC encouraged more attention and shined a light on the sincerity of their operation. “Having our story attached to it helps people take them more seriously and they see the passion behind it,” says Carly.
The foundation website not only educates people on trauma and different forms of recovery, but is also a valuable tool for teachers in order to recognize the signs of children facing trauma and help them recover in the classrooms. “Our goal is to have schools aware and informed about trauma with children,” says Carly.
SHCC is made up of three different ideas: readiness, preparing for an actual event whether it be a shooting, suicide or natural disaster; response, the community and support that happens in the year following the traumatic event; and recovery, which happens past the first year in order to continue healing.
SHCC should not be mistaken for therapy, but rather a place or system where the community and schools can go to recognize someone who has experienced trauma. “It is not therapy, but how to identify trauma and to be able to push them to other resources,” says Dave. By providing the right information from the start, more children can receive the help they need immediately to prevent any long term difficulties. “We want to see all kids have what our kids have,” says Carly.
SHCC is beginning locally in hopes that the cooperative will spread to other schools and states across the country. “A teacher in California is even using it,” says Dave. With the positive response from parents and teachers alike, there is only one direction the foundation can go, and that is forward.
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN, 2008) reports that one in four school children in the U.S. have experienced a traumatic event that can have a profound effect on their behavior and learning. More than 25 percent of American youth experience a serious traumatic event by their 16th birthday, and many children suffer multiple repeated traumas.
After a crisis or traumatic event, a child is at risk of developing traumatic stress. About 25 percent of victims and witnesses of violence develop PTSD, depression or anxiety disorders.
If you or someone you know is dealing with a traumatic event, visit sandyhookcolumbine.org to begin the path to recovery. Stay updated at facebook.com/sandyhookcolumbine
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