Alive and Well Communities fosters trauma-informed discussion

Local non-profit Alive and Well Communities hosted a discussion on trauma, child abuse, neglect and domestic violence as part of its “Impact Series” last week at the Kansas City Public Library.  

The event served to empower victims, survivors and supporters to advocate for the rehabilitation of systemic and communal adversity. 

“Becoming trauma informed is not just an empowering tool for professionals that work in fields like the criminal justice system or healthcare,” said UMKC Criminal Justice Professor Allison Phillips. “It is really how any of us should hope to see and interact in a world full of hurting people.”

Being informed of various traumas is a step toward recovery, healing, rehabilitation and even better relationships the panel explained. The audience was encouraged to act and spread awareness of violence and neglect in an effort to prevent and break the toxic cycle.

This event featured moving personal statements of relationships that progressed from seemingly healthy to detrimentally depriving, shared with the hope of preventing such cases from happening to another family.

Monica Cohue, a family training specialist for Foster Adopt Connect, spoke about another vulnerable community: foster care children. 23,000 children age out of the system each year, and 7 out of 10 girls who age out are likely to become pregnant before the age of 21.

Speakers advocated for victims and survivors through shared personal experiences that educated the audience on a portion of society that is not often spoken about. Professionals from social work, foster care, the YMCA and volunteer services spoke about their commitment towards the improvement of increased trauma-informed community members.

From a local emergency shelter, Rosebrooks, Bridge Program Manager Kamille Washington gave insight on difficult situations people encounter while in crisis. She asked the audience to consider the reality of a domestic violence situation where it is not just the adult whose life is threatened, but children’s lives, as well.

Jennifer Washam, a Rosebrooks family court advocate, spoke about obstacles of rehabilitation that survivors face, like transportation to services. In some crisis cases, victims may face situations where all six of the local shelters are at full capacity.

Cohue spoke about her ability to manage emotions by using laughter as her “life raft.” Cohue had over 100 children come through her house dirty, unkempt and hungry. Some of the children had no idea how to play, and all of the children were confused and scared.

YMCA Headstart Coordinator Dianna Hall and Education Coordinator Jeanne Smith spoke of being “trauma smart,” educating the audience on how to be aware, sensitive, responsive and rehabilitative.

Hall and Smith also discussed how children are affected by trauma, which reverts the young mind to strive for survival, connection and safety. The innate desire to feel safe is a mindset in which Hall and Smith pull from to rehabilitate the child’s mind.

Trauma will come in many different shapes and forms, but commonality is found in the raw emotions of pain and healing that come with it. Members of the community may not all face the same trauma, but the road to recovery can be paved together as individual trauma is made collectively aware.

Alive and Well Communities is a non-profit organization with a mission that activates communities to heal. To learn more or to get involved in Alive and Well Communities, contact directly: Ave Stokes, MPH, Director of Alive and Well Kansas City at:

  • astokes@awcommunities.org
  • By office, (816) 482-3465 ext. 707
  • Or by cell, (816) 663-9794

For ways to get involved, more information and resources please visit:

vrgomez@mail.umkc.edu

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