We are excited to announce our Violence Prevention Coalition has been awarded a $138,284 grant for the next 18 months from the Catholic Health Initiatives Mission and Ministry Fund. We want to thank Catholic Health Initiatives for their generosity and support in both the planning and implementation phases of our coalition, and we want to share what the coalition will be doing.
Our Violence Prevention Coalition is working with a variety of local organizations to ensure our community maintains its status as a safe place to live. It has been developing projects, with an emphasis on youth, to stop violence before it starts and will now begin implementing those projects. There are four components to its strategy: trauma-informed care training, social/emotional intelligence training, youth mentoring, and the PhotoVoice project.
First, The trauma-informed care approach recognizes that the root cause of inappropriate behavior is often past trauma. When trauma victims experience “triggers” that recall traumatic events, it sometimes leads them to engage in self-defeating and anti-social behaviors. By providing trauma-informed care training to those who work with children, we can help individuals recognize and defuse trauma-induced and potentially violent behavior.
Secondly, to help prevent physical and “virtual” youth violence, the coalition will work with area schools to facilitate the implementation of social/emotional intelligence training for K-8 students. This training has been demonstrated to help reduce the incidence of youth violence in schools by teaching students to resolve differences and manage behavior without resorting to violence.
Thirdly, another key component of the coalition is mentoring. Students who work with adult mentors are 46% less likely to use illegal drugs, 52% less likely to skip school, and 33% less likely to resort to violence in an attempt to solve a problem. The coalition will work with the Buffalo County Youth Advisory Board to strengthen and expand existing mentoring programs by pairing high school students with middle schoolers to teach them behaviors that will enhance their social and academic success.
Lastly, through PhotoVoice, the Violence Prevention Coalition is working with middle and high school students, some of whom are referred by Buffalo County Juvenile Services, to help youth develop a creative and constructive response to their environment. Participants take photos that reflect issues that concern them and share those photos with local policy makers, city council members, school board members, and others. The program helps youth find their voice in the community and see that problems can be solved through positive dialogue.
With this grant funding, implementation and expansion of these programs can begin.