By Nawal Alomari
We all want to be happy and healthy, but as we know, life sometimes throws us curve balls. The curve balls might take the shape of a presidential election, the loss of a loved one, stress at work, economic hardship, cancer, a shooting, a car accident, or something as simple as a bully at school. Whatever they look like, they will keep coming; and even the youngest members of our community will need to know how to cope with the curve balls to stay happy and healthy.
Healing from trauma and recognizing mental illness is just what Ms. Cralli’s forth graders want to do this year as part of their Grassroots Campaign. Just last Tuesday, Village Leadership Academy parents, family members and students attended and participated in a Healing Night hosted by Ms. Cralli and her 4th grade class. Mental Health is Ms. Cralli’s Grassroots Campaign for the year and they help promote change regarding the topic of mental health and suicide.
The night started with music and pizza, much like many great nights. Then Ms. Cralli opened up the discussion by sharing the data of a survey her class had given to VLA students. She provided some background information that opened our eyes to the way our students view the world around them.
The fact that stood out most to us was that while younger students felt they had someone to talk to during difficult times, the older students were less likely to feel that way. Results from the survey helped us understand that there is a need for more of a connection between the students and the adults in their lives.
A forth grader’s parent and psychiatrist Mrs. Brewer shared that she felt this was such an important topic for us to understand. She discussed the brain, the way it works and how this influences our relationships was absolutely fascinating!! I spoke next and discussed the value of a healthy child-adult relationship and tips for talking to children about trauma to promote positive communication.
The children and their families then learned about coping skills and different ways we can react positively during difficult times. The families then brainstormed different ways they can do each type of coping skill either individually or as a family.
Finally, we discussed art therapy and how it can be beneficial for children to draw or do an activity when discussing difficult topics because it can be easier to express ourselves through those outlets.
The young people then drew about something that made them feel strongly and talked about it with their parents as a result. The families seemed to really enjoy doing this and saw value in connecting with their children this way. Many parents and grandparents also had discussions about the difficulties of communicating with their growing children and different ways to overcome obstacles. It was a very productive meeting and we can’t wait to hear how families were able to incorporate these great skills in their daily lives!