One Breath at a Time
Young & Healthy has launched an educational program designed to bring a broader understanding of Trauma Informed Care (TIC) to community members. The program includes many components where we discuss how toxic stress in childhood effects our brain development, our behavior, our ability to learn and even our long-term health. One of our most engaged audiences has been a large group of swim instructors.
Following our training, one of the swim instructors, Sofia, was faced with a tough situation. Ten year-old Josie’s pool behavior was always a bit of a challenge, but on one particular day it was exceedingly difficult. Sofia could tell that Josie was having an “off” day, so she took Josie aside to work with her, one-on-one. While Josie used the kick board, Sofia swam face-to-face in front of her. Sofia told Josie that she had been having a bad day…she lost her keys, she forgot her lunch and by the time she got to work, she was very grumpy. Then, in a tender voice, Sofia asked Josie if she was also having a bad day? Josie nodded, yes she was. THIS was a breakthrough moment for Josie! She opened up because someone noticed, someone cared and she wasn’t in trouble for her behavior. Sofia told Josie that she did not have to talk about her bad day, but offered her some “tricks” that might help. In the middle of the crowded pool, Sofia taught Josie some deep breathing practices by suggesting that she take a really big deep breath, go under water, and “punch” that water just as hard as she could. Moments later after following the suggestion, Josie shot to surface giggling and happy to join the others in the swim lesson. Such a small, yet effective, exercise changed that little girl’s day. Sofia told Young & Healthy later that she kept thinking about a Dan Siegal quote we use in all of our classes, “In order for a child to feel secure, he/she must be seen, safe and soothed”. Kudos to Sofia, who did all of those things and probably gained a big fan!
The Mobile Dental Clinic Opens More Doors
The last year of high school should be filled with fun, proms, planning for the future and finally, graduation! Not so for Rogelio, a high school senior who participated in our recent Mobile Dental Clinic. Rogelio came for dental care but left the clinic with the Young & Healthy team behind him.
Rogelio lives with his 22-year-old brother who is trying to support them both. The boys know that an eviction notice is only days away. When our staff discovered that these boys are on the edge of homelessness and hunger, Rogelio was sent home with every left-over sandwich, cookie and apple from the clinic lunch on Saturday.
At one point, Rogelio asked quietly if a dentist might be able to look at his brother’s teeth, as well. In better days, his brother had braces…braces which were never removed, until he tried to remove them himself with a pair of pliers. After hearing of this, the USC dentists did see his brother to remove the cement that remained from his “home dentistry” project.
While Rogelio and his brother came to the Mobile Dental Clinic for dental care, they left with connections for a myriad of other services. These young men are struggling in ways that break our hearts, and yet they displayed such gratitude and kindness to all. I wonder if I would have the same grace and fortitude to continue on if that were me?
Trauma Informed Care in the Works
When Susanna’s behavior is volatile and disruptive to the rest of the class, she is sent to the principal’s office. Her angry outbursts can be difficult to manage and she sometimes lashes out at other children. This isn’t a good situation for anyone involved–especially Susanna.
Luckily for this fourth grader, her principal has taken advantage of some extensive training in Trauma Informed Care. This principal has more tools in her toolbox now to help her students. When Susanna, or other “frequent flyers” land in the office, she now gets them a glass of water and teaches them how to take deep calming breaths. The principal understands that Susanna’s disruptive behavior is her way of communicating that all is not right in her world. The principal still discusses Susanna’s behavior with her, but now with a deeper sense of compassion. Susanna will still be held accountable for her behavior, but she now also knows that when she cannot regulate her moods, the principal can help her calm down and talk things through. This is not only a kind and patient way to operate in the world, but research also shows that this positive approach improves success in school.
Surly to Sweet
Sabrina has a very sick little boy who needs healthcare attention. More than one agency in town has told her he needs insurance–NOW! Sabrina is beyond frustrated and quite confused by all the healthcare “lingo” and rules by what she, not-so-lovingly, calls “THE COUNTY”. With her mounting anger, Sabrina arrived at Young & Healthy tired and annoyed with the world.
We were able to take care of her son’s immediate health needs and explained how he does, indeed, qualify for insurance. The Young & Healthy team was calm, respectful and used a dash of good humor with Sabrina. We could hardly believe that the same angry woman who had walked into our office was walking out laughing and hugging the staff.
Sometimes it’s not always what we do…but how we do it.
Every family needs a leader, someone who can take charge when things get rough. Sometimes we find those leaders in very young children.
Victor is only twelve-years-old but you might never guess that by his actions. Victor is the spokesperson for his family, helping his mom and little sister navigate through life in a new country where they have found themselves receiving services from a homeless program and now Young & Healthy.
Once Victor’s little sister’s severe dental pain was treated by three different volunteer dentists, his own health needs could be addressed. Victor has relentless headaches and is now being treated by a volunteer neurologist. No reason has yet been discovered for these headaches, but the Young & Healthy volunteer doctor continues to search for answers and treat him with such kindness.
Young & Healthy has embraced Victor and his family with appointments, transportation and case management services, but imagine the stress that this young family leader must be under. Perhaps his stress is the genesis of the headaches, which would not be surprising. Thanks to every advocate, every program and every volunteer doctor involved, Victor and his family continue to receive the support and care that they need.