“Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation.” -Graham Green
Can you imagine what it would be like to grow up in an area of armed conflict? How it might feel as a child to deal with a constant threat of death, the stress of being surrounded by violence and loss?
What if I told you that almost one in four children in the United States today are in home situations just that stressful? That almost 50% of our children will experience at least one ACE or Adverse Childhood Experience that impacts their ability to learn? Children that have these experiences have higher risks of long-term diseases, such as diabetes, depression, asthma and high blood pressure due to the impacts of stress hormones on developing bodies.
No Child is Born Bad
Although these may sound like things only experienced in an urban, or high poverty area, the statistics are alarmingly clear. Children in a constant stressful situation have higher rates of discipline issues, and are more likely to be diagnosed with ADD and ADHD or Oppositional Defiance Disorder. To top it all off, the disciplinary systems in today’s schools will then re-traumatize the same child dealing with the behavioral issues spawned by the uncontrollable environment.
A report from the National Center for Children in Poverty showed that 75 to 80 percent of children and youth in need of mental health services do not receive them. Gaps in medical coverage and higher costs for caregivers mean that even where professionals are available, there are still barriers to getting services. Even in times children are able to receive services, they are almost always recommended to keep a journal/diary to help them move forward and stop living in the past.
Our Trauma Informed Approach
Writing for the Soul Workshop™ offer students that have already been identified as at-risk, an opportunity to work with caring licensed counselors, facilitators, and mentors to improve their ability to develop a positive attitude towards their future through writing and sharing. Watch how our program changed this young man’s life and then read his submission from Stories of Hope:
Out of The Ashes by Gary, Stories of Hope
I know there are others like me that have been abused or who struggle with severe anger issues. That’s why I decided to share my story…. here it is. From the time of my birth to the age of six, I was abused. I suffered severe child abuse from someone I thought I could trust and love. That person was my father. I should call my father “Dad” but I refused to do so. My father is a monster …and this is what he did to my life.
My father was a manipulator and an alcoholic. When he drank, my father became very angry. When he got angry, he got violent. When he wasn’t being violent, he did other things to me.
Being in that house was like being in a fiery house of hell and no one knew. My father would act nice in public and then beat me at home …that two faced loser. He got away with it until one day after beating me; my mother noticed the bruises on my arms and legs. I believe I was around 5 1/2 years old. She noticed them while drying me off after giving me a bath.
She confronted my father and he began hitting her. It was at night, and I was asleep. I heard a big boom and woke up. I heard the sound of my mother’s voice crying out for my neighbors to help. She cried out for help to protect a newborn, me and my other brothers. It all happened so fast.
Later that week, my mom filed for a divorce. I didn’t even know that it was called a divorce. Mom simply told me that her and my father weren’t going to live together anymore. About six months later, my father signed his parental rights away from my brother and me.
Gary’s testimony about how Writing for the Soul Workshop™ changed his life and his behavior, is just one of many from the youth and parents that have been impacted by our programs.
Writing his story empowered Gary to open up and begin to heal from trauma. Students like Gary also begin to develop a love of writing and reading. Better readers do better in life. Students go on to gain financial freedom when they promote their work. This boosts self-esteem tremendously. Have you ever seen a student who believes the lie, “You’ll never amount to nothing!” go on to sign their first autograph? It’s absolutely life changing for them.