Hurricanes. Wildfires. Mass shootings. Chatter about nuclear weapons.
Lately, I feel like every time I skim through Facebook or flip on CNN or turn on NPR, I’m reminded that this world can be a daunting, even traumatizing place to live. Especially for our kids.
Thinking back to Hurricane Harvey, I picture a child in his Houston home, with water up to his knees, his heart racing. Clutching his mom and his stuffed animal, trying to be brave, as the water rises around them. Finally letting the tears rain down as he leaves behind his home — his sanctuary — as he’s lifted onto a rescue boat.
I think about a young girl lying awake at night in a shelter or motel or on an uncle’s couch, wondering where she will live and when she will see her friends and teachers again.
And I remember the kids whose trauma and toxic stress — from losing a parent or witnessing violence, for example — don’t make the headlines.
If a child goes through two, three, or more of these “adverse childhood experiences,” and she doesn’t have the right support around her, the impact on her young brain can be devastating and long-lasting. Without help, some traumatized kids tune out in class. Some get suspended. Some end up in the juvenile justice system.
But there is hope. Kids can get on the right track. With your donation, we can keep working to ensure they get the support they need.
Children can recover after they’ve been through trauma or when they’re struggling with depression or other mental health challenges. And they can thrive. They can make the honor roll. They can lead their soccer team into the big game. They can organize the canned food drive for neighbors in need.
With your support, we have released a new report and urged state leaders to start supporting mental health services in school. This Fall, we had a major breakthrough. As we’ve explained on the local news, the Governor announced a state task force to work on student mental health in communities hit by Hurricane Harvey. The assignments he gave the task force closely mirror the recommendations we’ve made to state policymakers.
It’s a great step, but it isn’t enough. Together, we can do more.
We need to make sure the task force comes through for kids. And we need to expand these efforts beyond the Gulf Coast to the whole state.
Together with you, we can make it happen. Together, we can change a child’s life.
Please help us ensure that when a traumatized child walks into school, she finds the teachers, counselors, and principal all ready to welcome her and ensure she gets the mental health and other support she needs to succeed.