Live Oak Charter School in Petaluma hosted the Schoolbox Project on Sunday and Monday October 15 and 16 to help train and support volunteers, parents and educators in responding to the crisis in our community.
Without an understanding of basic trauma-informed principles, there is potential for even the most well-meaning volunteers to engage in behavior that is overstimulating or even re-traumatizing to vulnerable populations.
Dr. Gabriela Bronson-Castain, Clinical Director of the Behavioral Emergency Response Team at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital, Oakland, presented an overview of common trauma responses and behaviors, and how best to engage in a meaningful way as a volunteer and a community member impacted by this crisis.
Key messages include:
- Our local wildfires happened in the context of many other recent world events that were already troubling our residents.
- Our disaster was not just a short event that ended after a few hours or a day, this is a longer term crisis that is taking a toll on our ability to cope.
- Our recovery is likely to take weeks, months, or years but it is likely to follow a predictable pattern of phases.
- Heroic phase: state of shock, survival needs first, much grief, much altruism (thanks first responders!)
- Honeymoon phase: we feel stronger and more connected as a community, more optimism for future, saying "we can rebuild and be better than before!"
- Disillusionment phase: we may find resources to help are limited (FEMA and insurance claims fall short), media may forget us, a new story in another part of the Country may get focus, anger may result. We want normalcy, and it continues to allude us.
- Acceptance/Reconstruction phase: "This is up to me, this is up to us." I accept a new normal. Beware that disenfranchised folks may feel left behind if we don't make sure we are inclusive as a community. Vulnerable families will need additional support and consideration.
- Community members will move through the phases at different paces - for some of us we are ready to move on and others are still numb. We may also bounce between phases.
- The National Child Traumatic Stress Network offers good tools to help us support ourselves and our children - click here for our article with links
The 90 minute training was captured on video and is now posted on Facebook for all to access.
Schoolbox also promises to post their own volunteer training materials on their facebook page or website - this includes images, talking points, and more for how to offer trauma-informed support.