Omaha Undertakes Initiative to Become Trauma Informed City

 

Mayor Jean Stothert declares Omaha a Trauma Informed City

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Similar to most cities around the country, Omaha, Nebraska, desires and strives to be a safe, supportive, and engaging community where all people can flourish.  However, the approach Omaha is taking to achieve these goals is unique to itself.  

In December 2016, Omaha kicked off a Trauma Informed Community initiative; the focus being that each person or organization that might come into contact with a victim of trauma would not only understand, but recognize that trauma and respond appropriately.  By intentionally changing the response to trauma, perspectives shift and the community culture starts to change. 

Research clearly indicates that experiencing trauma, such as abuse or neglect, witnessing violence, or parental separation/divorce, has a tremendous lifelong impact on an individual’s health and quality of life.  With each additional trauma experienced, a person is at greater risk to struggle with negative behavioral and health outcomes like smoking, alcoholism, diabetes, depression, suicide attempts, heart disease, and cancer.  This is a community health issue that requires a community response. 

With targeted focus, this initiative will strive to train 5% of Omaha’s population, approximately 22,000 people, in foundational knowledge of trauma with a concentrated effort directed at community leadership:  first responders (law enforcement, fire, EMTs, and media), juvenile justice, child welfare, medical, and education.  The first step of the initiative to bring about change towards change is creating awareness. 

three steps
Phases of the Trauma Informed Community initiative.

A foundation of awareness and knowledge leads to opportunities for thoughtfully developing skills and procedures that are trauma sensitive.  This provides community leaders and members of all occupations to respond to those affected by trauma in a way that best helps them succeed.  It is a focus on viewing other’s from a mentality of “what has happened to you” in place of the common perception of “what is wrong with you.”  Throughout the course of the next three years, the Trauma Informed Community initiative will focus on developing train-the-trainer programs that help organizations to develop and implement trauma informed practices. 

To address the immediate community needs related to trauma, the Trauma Informed Community initiative supports and partners with acute services, such as YouTurn, an organization focused on interrupting cycles of violence.   Altogether, this tiered approach allows for a comprehensive response to trauma from awareness building, skill development, immediate response, and ultimately behavioral and attitude change. 

The Trauma Informed Community initiative has been a collaborative undertaking with strong support from leaders throughout Omaha.  Mayor Jean Stothert proclaimed Omaha a Trauma Informed Community and her office participated in the awareness training.  So far over 3,000 people have been trained on trauma including over 30 trainings for educators.  The initiative collaborates with the Community Health Improvement Plan that help coordinates efforts with the medical entities across the community.  Additionally, the University of Nebraska Medical Center has partnered to provide a framework for the evaluation of the initiative.  The Sherwood Foundation has provided generous financial support to help this initiative build.  There is strong commitment and collaboration from leaders and organizations across Omaha – a comprehensive list can be found at .

Omaha, Nebraska is stepping up to become a safe and supportive community – a community that is committed to health and wellbeing by intentionally addressing trauma.  Yet, these efforts are as strong as the momentum behind them.  Get involved, participate in a trauma training, and spread the word.

For a list of local Omaha trainings, view Project Harmony

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I too would be interested in finding out some of the nuts and bolts of becoming trauma informed. Was there any particular reason for aiming to train 5 % other than that is more manageable than 10%?  Thanks and good luck! 

This is a terrific project, Jessica. Thanks for posting this!

Can you provide some more details about what the training entails? Does it include ACEs science? (ACEs science = the epidemiology of adverse childhood experiences -- the ACE Study and subsequent surveys; the neurobiology of toxic stress, especially how it affects children's developing brains; the short- and long-term effects of toxic stress on health; the effects of toxic stress on our genes, i.e. epigenetics....often referred to as historical or generational trauma; and resilience research...the ways that individuals, organizations, systems and communities can heal from trauma, sometimes called post-traumatic growth.)

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