At CRP, one of our greatest strengths is our close ties to the community we serve. We achieve this in part because we are constantly looking for ways to improve.
Our Education Consultant, Beryl Cheal, arrived at CRP through a grant from FAWCO. She has worked with children from all over the world designing and implementing children’s programs. And she is no stranger to the effects of trauma.
In preparation for the new Super Girls program she is designing for CRP, Beryl held trauma-sensitivity training for CRP’s staff early last week. The two-day program taught our volunteers and staff members to spot and appropriately react to signs of trauma.
Adults and children often show different signs of trauma, though they may be reacting to the same shared experience. Adults can become depressed or numb, unable to find joy in anything, losing sleep or even experiencing amnesia.
Children on the other hand, often begin to act out after experiencing trauma. A lack of trust in adults and low self-confidence can manifest. Being children, they have no prior experience dealing with traumatic events and aren’t aware that things can eventually get better. A fear that life is out of control can take hold, which results in children not being able to listen to parents or teachers-—or even volunteers at our programs. Often, the only reason they are not able to pay attention is simply because they have more important things on their mind. They aren’t willfully acting out, which is an important lesson for our staff and volunteers to remember.
We used discussion and role playing in order to identify situations where our beneficiaries may be demonstrating stress from trauma and what we as representatives of CRP will do about it. While there were a lot of laughs as team members demonstrated what NOT to do, at the end of the day we really learned a lot and took that learning seriously.
“People can really act out in ways that come off as awkward or rude, and even aggressive. And to actually know the connection between that kind of behavior and to their experience really makes it more explicit,” said Carl Essman, a CRP intern. “So you can have a better understanding of what people have gone through, and why they behave as they do, because it’s a natural reaction.”
The most important step for us as an organization is to make sure we can identify those that most need help, and then make sure they receive it. We take this responsibility very seriously, as part of our mission is to help every person we serve live with dignity.