Authored by Kimberley Wicker, Fact Forward Partner Engagement Coordinator
It starts with empathy.
As a parent with a background in social work, communications and outreach I am always thinking about how to reach others in a way that is authentic and solutions focused. We all face hard times and trauma can come in many forms. In fact, I often say that we should consider “universal precautions” when trying to connect to anyone. Basically, anyone could have faced abuse, loss, racism, sexism... you name it. So, before we speak, we should think about how our words – and actions – could affect others. I know, the golden rule, right? Well, unfortunately, treating others the way we would like to be treated is not what happens always, even when our intentions are good.
In our work...
Keeping trauma in mind when implementing reproductive health education and youth outreach activities is essential in helping youth-serving professionals effectively engage adolescents. When trusted adults are equipped with effective tools to discuss and address sensitive issues, they are more likely to provide young people with age-appropriate, medically accurate and empathetic education and resources. Their referral processes will also be based on evidence and solutions focused.
Fact Forward provides a virtual training that gives basic information about trauma while focusing on ways youth-serving professionals can effectively promote resilience, healing and take care of themselves in the process. As a result of this training, participants learn how to:
- Define/understand Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) and resilience
- Reflect on personal concerns and/or biases related to addressing adolescent reproductive health
- Create a personal check list for self-care
- Practice communication that reflects a healing/trauma-informed approaches
- Implement as least one healing/ trauma-informed approach to adolescent reproductive health in their work
Having these tools provides a strong foundation for reaching adolescents and the families with empathy, understanding and effectiveness. It is also important to maintain ongoing connection to resources and networks to reinforce the work necessary for self-care and outreach.
There are plenty of opportunities to get educated on trauma informed care. A new opportunity from Columbia College focuses on making sure educators get the training they need to support young people. As a Columbia College alum, I am excited to share this new resource and hope that you'll share with within your networks!
According to Columbia College's website, "the Master of Education in Trauma-Informed Education provides candidates with an understanding of how childhood trauma, mental health and poverty impact students’ ability to learn. Candidates will also be equipped to establish trauma-sensitive practices in their classrooms to promote changes both school-wide and district-wide.
Historically, educators and social workers train separately and do not have opportunities to collaborate and learn how both professions impact one another. Current nationwide statistics show an increase in the prevalence of childhood trauma, mental illness and poverty rates in PreK-12th grade. "The MEd in Trauma-Informed Education blends education and the helping professions to prepare educators, school counselors, administrators and daycare workers for the diverse needs of students."
Trauma affects us all at some level and, especially, in our current climate, with the pandemic and other social issues in the forefront, it's more important than ever to consider adolescents' experiences and needs with extra care and understanding.
When we heal, we grow.