Luis, a first-grader, was chronically exposed to violence in his neighborhood and at home. He reacted to the trauma by lashing out and hitting other children at school. He argued with adults and spent hours of his time hiding and pretending to be a cheetah. Luis was referred to an EBAC school-based therapist for help. Initially, he was highly volatile and constantly pushed limits with her. During their sessions together, the therapist noticed he was drawn to art supplies and loved to experiment with them. She created a safe space for him to create and express himself. Over time, Luis began to look forward to his time with her and feel proud about the art he created.
Luis is now engaged in learning, likes school, no longer hits his classmates, and rarely argues with his teacher. When his therapist asked Luis how he made these positive changes, he replied, “I get to see you now and that made it better.”
An EBAC Therapist’s First Story of Success
“I feel like I am in a pile of sand, drowning, and that everybody is walking by but nobody stops to help me,” 6-year-old Zack told his EBAC counselor. Zack has been impacted by violence, grief, and homelessness. He was constantly sad and worried.
In the counselor’s room is a “Worry Tree”. Children write their fears on a leaf and pin it to the tree. This helps them identify their fears and shows them that everybody has fears. Zack’s daily worries included having no home, no father, and not enough to eat. When Zack began to write his worries to add to the Worry Tree, he stopped, looked up, and said, "All I really need is more time to play. I don't get any time to play!" EBAC cannot fix poverty, racism, and violence nor return family members lost to death or incarceration. But with your help, we can give kids a place to play, where they feel safe, loved, and can forget about their worries. Play therapy is so important for a traumatized child's emotional health and development.
Every child deserves the chance to play and heal.
When Claire was 12 years old her mom died. Claire tried to "be strong" and continue with her life as "normal". For nearly a year, she didn't cry or talk about losing her mom. Then, Claire starting having trouble completing her school work and began fighting with her friends. Her father asked Claire's pediatrician for advice. She suggested that Claire had not yet accepted her mother's death and was not coping with her grief. Her father brought her to Circle of Care.
At EBAC's Circle of Care, Claire found a safe place to acknowledge the sadness and anger she had held inside for over a year. In the comfort of others who understood her loss, she began to accept her mother's death and build strength to cope with her grief. At Circle of Care, Claire found hope for a happy future.
Jadan transferred to our classroom program as a 6th grader and had been diagnosed with severe depression and social anxiety. He was unable to socialize with any of his peers or staff, and would remain withdrawn and hidden in his sweatshirt for the entire school day, which led to weeks, and eventually months. This type of behavior was something new to my team and me. Overtime it began to wear on all of us, pushing us to places we had never been mentally. After weeks of meetings and tons of creative positive intervention approaches, we were finally able to find a break through and provide this student with the appropriate support to empower him to be himself, improve his confidence, and help him grow more comfortable in our classroom setting. The following year we were able to transition Jadan into six mainstream classes, which was a bit challenging but he continued to work hard and progress through our program. This young man is now an 8th grader who has a full caseload of classes and requires minimal to little support throughout the day, and has aspirations of attending college and studying computer science. Stories like this one remind me of the saying “It takes a village” to raise a child and also reiterates my desire to have the opportunity to play a part in that village and help another youth down the path to success. Jadan inspired me to strive to be the best at what I do.