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Pennington: TIME4K program expands to help students in Wayne, Cabell counties


HUNTINGTON — Through blowing bubbles, easy-to-follow activities and the occasional use of glitter, the West Virginia Trauma-Informed Mindfulness for Kids program is expanding to help youth struggling with trauma or toxic stress find positive coping strategies in Cabell and Wayne counties.

The program, also known as TIME4K, is a three-year, grant-funded pilot initiative through Marshall University’s Social Work and Psychology departments that offers resources to teachers and behavioral interventions for individual students.

The program, now in its second year, is expanding from four original schools — Spring Hill, Central City, Ceredo-Kenova and Wayne elementary schools — to Milton, Guyandotte, Lavalette and Kellogg elementary schools.

“Some of these kids have come from very traumatic backgrounds and they don’t know how to cope with the emotions that they feel,” Carlee Lammers, a social work graduate student assigned to Central City Elementary in West Huntington, said. “Those emotions often come out in behaviors that we wouldn’t really deem appropriate for school.”

Each of the eight schools is assigned a trained graduate student to work with students and teachers under supervision of the project’s treatment coordinator.

“We go in and we build a caseload of students through referrals from the school, but also DHHR, the community, drug court, anything like that,” Lammers said. “We work with kids one-on-one and do mindfulness interventions with them.”

Often, Lammers said, the student may be upset and just needs help calming down.

“As adults, sometimes it’s hard for us to calm down, let alone a child who has been through things in the past that no child should have to go through,” she said. “And even if we don’t have any immediate, major breakthroughs, it’s still just one more trusting adult who is there to help them calm down in a fun way.”

Lammers said techniques range from a four-finger mantra where students repeat the phrase, “I can calm down,” to squeezing stress relief toys that TIME4K provides.

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It is a great idea to support and teach skills for regulation. Schools should adopt universal precautions for trauma informed care and teach and support regulation with all students (and adults) to best treat trauma. Sometimes the people who do not show “signs” of trauma could really benefit, too. 

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