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Building a Trauma-Resilient Kingston

posted by

Allana Edwards

Building a Trauma-Resilient Kingston

May 17, 2019

Did you know that traumatic experiences in childhood can have lifelong effects on health? While childhood trauma or toxic stress can take many forms, it can include events such as ongoing financial insecurity, abuse, family separation, family member addiction or incarceration, and other stressors. And research has shown that traumatic events experienced in childhood are highly correlated with both physical and behavioral health problems later in life.

In February 2019, the Institute for Family Health received funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to launch an innovative child wellness initiative in Kingston, NY, focused on helping children cope with traumatic experiences and lead happy and healthy lives. The project—Building a Trauma Resilient (BTR) Kingston—is a collaborative effort between the Institute, Kingston City School District (KCSD), community organizations, and local families.

Since February, BTR Kingston has collaborated with staff at the Institute’s Kingston Family Health Center and KCSD’s JFK Elementary School in trauma-informed practices, including:

  • Trained staff at JFK Elementary School to better assist students impacted by trauma;
  • Formed several patient support groups at the Kingston Family Health Center targeted for those who have experienced or are currently experiencing trauma and/or toxic stress;
  • Initiated an innovative collaboration with the Institute’s Mid-Hudson Family Medicine Residency Program to engage physicians-in-training, such as by facilitating family support groups; and
  • Strengthened partnerships with other community initiatives, including Live Well Kingston, a city commission to promote a healthy community.

Most recently, the Institute hosted a community screening of the film Resilience: The Biology of Stress & The Science of Hope. The film examines the connection between childhood trauma/toxic stress and the negative impact it can have on health later in life, leading to health outcomes such as obesity, addiction, and chronic disease. It also introduces ways children can build resilience against these health outcomes if trauma is addressed early on. On May 16, more than 80 people attended the screening at the George Washington Elementary School. After the film, attendees participated in a panel discussion featuring Dr. Michael Ignat, a pediatrician at the Kingston Family Health Center; Beth Lewis Jackson, director of special education at the KCSD; Marybeth Coons, co-founder of the Resilient Child Fund; Esther, a peer advocate from the Kingston Family Health Center; and Beatriz Vides, cofounder of the  Center for Trauma Resilient Communities.

We look forward to continuing to work with the Kingston community to build resilience in Kingston – so that every young person has the support they need to live a hopeful and happy life.

Building a Trauma-Resilient Kingston ImagePanelists discuss toxic stress following a screening of "Resilience: The Biology of Stress & The Science of Hope" in Kingston, NY.