Helping students cope with trauma and prepare them for social and academic success are the goals of a program being implemented at North Kansas City Schools’ Linden West Elementary School. Thanks to a $217,000 Kauffman Foundation grant, the school will train staff and parents this summer through the Trauma Smart program sponsored by St. Luke’s Hospital and Crittenton Children’s Center.
Training takes place this summer at Linden West. Trauma Smart (TS) is an early education/mental health partnership designed for schools. The goals of TS are to reduce the stress of chronic trauma, support children’s social and cognitive development, and develop an integrated, trauma-informed culture for young children, parents, and staff. TS includes training, classroom consultation, intensive evidence-based clinical treatment, and peer mentoring of teachers. As part of the grant, a clinical therapist will be on site at Linden West for two years.
The National Center for Childhood Poverty says, trauma has been shown to negatively impact early brain development, cognitive development, learning social-emotional development and physical health. Linden West is taking a pro-active approach by ensuring it offers trauma-informed care so staff can recognize and respond to the impact of trauma on young students.
According to Trauma Smart, early intervention shows a reduction in students exhibiting bad behavior, depression and anxiety. When teachers and caregivers have the information and skills they need to assist children who have experienced trauma, the school environment improves for all children. Children who have been affected by trauma are better prepared to succeed in school and have the skills and relationships that build resiliency against future experiences.
Linden West principal Shelly Sanders says the staff overwhelming decided to pursue a grant for trauma training and were thrilled to receive it. “Learning how to teach students who have experienced trauma opens classrooms to a much more positive learning environment. Teaching students how to cope at an early age will set them on course for a better life, one with more opportunities and richer experiences.”