Healing Ourselves, Strengthening Communities

CCC&Y encourages individuals and businesses to recognize childhood trauma and attend upcoming conference: Finding My Strength; Hope in Connection

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Imagine growing up in a home with various degrees of difficulty ranging from poverty, a single parent working multiple jobs, violence, rage or substance abuse. Consider what it would be like to then start school with this in your life -- it may be difficult to concentrate, you might fall behind, maybe you respond by hitting, crying or hiding. Suppose this makes you a “bad kid” and now you’re being ridiculed, isolated or punished.

The Coconino Coalition for Children and Youth (CCC&Y) in Flagstaff is striving to help educators, community members and elected officials know what childhood trauma looks like and how communities can more effectively respond to and help kids, especially those with a less than positive history.

“We have learned so much about resiliency and how an encouraging teacher, caring adults and activities that develop self-worth can change the trajectory for children,” says CCC&Y Executive Director Virginia Watahomigie. “We’ve also learned that this is not just some people’s issue. The costs of childhood trauma are high for the individual and for society as the impacts often play out in our justice system, hospitals and homeless shelters. Substance abuse, for example, rarely happens without traumatic childhood experiences.”

“The effects of these impacts are real,” says Coconino County Supervisor Art Babbitt. “The death by suicide rate in Coconino County is two times the national average. Issues related to economic opportunity, or the lack thereof, significantly impact mental and behavioral health. In order to create healthy families, healthy communities and supportive environments for children and youth, we need to recognize the social stresses -- the economic, generational and trauma-based impact -- that children and youth across Coconino County and Northern Arizona are facing in 2020.”

As a non-profit organization, Watahomigie says the coalition strives to: bring awareness about the far-reaching and lasting impacts of childhood trauma; provide training for teachers and other community members that will help them recognize what trauma looks like and how to effectively deal with it; facilitate action in communities; and, influence policy. CCC&Y is able to continue to make progress in these areas through professional development conferences, and individual and business memberships.

“This conference is looking into the intersections of resiliency, empowerment, social change, self-awareness, and overall creating inner balance by bringing together various speakers from different walks of life,” said Jacelyn Salabye, program manager for Native Americans for Community Action (NACA) and CCC&Y board member. “Importantly, it will include the indigenous, America Indian, Native American perspective of maintaining holistic balance through traditional practices, approaches and philosophy that been here in Northern Arizona for generations.”

“This whole idea about being trauma-informed is new to many of us,” said Flagstaff City Councilmember Jamie Whelan. “The key is not to traumatize those who have already been traumatized. So how do we teach compassion? CCC&Y’s upcoming conference explores the meaning and application of self-care and self-healing, so that we may be stronger and wiser individually, and more effective and resilient as a community.”

At CCC&Y’s Annual Prevention Conference: Finding My Strength; Hope in Connection, seasoned public health professionals and business leaders will share what it means to be marginalized, how lives change through the power of education, how individuals can garner a new understanding of balance, connection, peace and hope, and how communities can create resilience. The one-day event is scheduled for 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., Thursday, April 23, at the High Country Conference Center on the Northern Arizona University campus. Registration is due by April 13. For more information, visit coconinokids.org


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