South Community: Who We Are
Foster Care Parent Testimonial
South Community talks to Chad, one our our longtime foster care parents who, along with his wife Jennifer has fostered multiple children through South Community.
Good Day Dayton
Kris, our own Foster Care Program Director talks foster care with Good Day Dayton.
Yolanda Brown discusses the importance of being a foster parent and the role that you can play in a child’s life.
Equine Assisted Therapy & Social Skills Learning Experience
South Community, Inc. has partnered with Elliott Stables in Germantown, Ohio to provide Equine Assisted Therapy and Social Skills Training for at risk youth.
South Community, Inc. has partnered with Elliott Stables to provide an Equine Assisted Therapy and Social Skills Learning Experience Program. This program involves individual or group activities that require youth to apply social skills, creative thinking, non-verbal communication, problem-solving, confidence and leadership. The children that are referred are displaying problems of depression, self esteem, in-attention, anxiety or negative behaviors that are causing them difficulty in functioning in their homes, schools or communities. Many of the children have been exposed to violence or other trauma related issues.
Does it Improve the Lives of Youth?
Equine Assisted Learning groups are not horseback riding. The youth involved learn about themselves and others by participating in activities while interacting with the horses, then processing or discussing thoughts,
beliefs, behaviors and patterns.
Since the program’s existence, youth in this program have consistently
shown improvement in the areas of:
- Accepting responsibility
- Improving support of others
- Making good decisions
- Taking Responsibility
- Increase in self-esteem
Horses are social animals that have distinct personalities, moods, and attitudes. They are sensitive to non-verbal communication. All activities with our horses are designed to relate back to what is happening at home, school, work, relationships, etc.
Many of the horses used in the program are rescued by Elliott Stables from other farms who cannot afford to care for the horses, or from horse adoption agencies in the state of Ohio. The horses are given a second chance to life. The youth value the bond that is created with these animals and can relate to the horse’s struggles in life with their own experiences.
Sandy Hook Elementary
The shooting tragedy, however, affected many more individuals than the immediate Newtown community. It made numerous children in communities all across the country afraid, and led parents to question the safety of their children in their neighborhood schools.
We struggle to comprehend such violence towards innocent children and their teachers but do realize similar contemptible acts by mankind will occur in our communities in the future.
Given this reality, childmind.org offered some advice for caregivers of children on how to help children cope when such traumatic events occur. These offerings and others are listed below:
- To be therapeutic you must stay calm. Parents or other caregivers must not transfer their own anxieties or fears to the children in their care.
- Create an environment that affords them an opportunity to voice their fears and respond to their questions honestly and patiently. One does not have to “push” them to talk as this may be counterproductive but they must appreciate that you are comfortable discussing their fears.
- Be direct but also developmentally appropriate in your conversations. This interchange is best done in limited amounts over multiple conversations, not a single marathon sit-down. Expect a child to come back again and again with questions as they build a narrative about what happened; with your help it can be a healthy one, even if it is a very difficult subject.Assist the child in developing a narrative where they are a problem-solver, not a victim. Adoption of a victim stance lends itself to Post Traumatic Stress conditions.
- It is critical to make kids feel safe with love and continued routines. There is perhaps nothing more damaging to a child’s development than a feeling that the world is on balance a negative place. Security gives children confidence at the same time that it lets them be kids while they need to be.Although difficult, attempt to limit exposure from the surrounding environment. Turn the TV off as appropriate when young children are present. Excessive news reporting, especially detailing people in crisis can elevate anxieties even further.
- Finally, it’s important to keep an eye on kids and be alert to signs that they might not be recovering in a healthy way – changes in their patterns of sleep and eating, unusual irritability or trouble focusing, obsessive or pervasive worry that may take the form of pronounced separation anxiety.
At South Community we are attempting to transform mental health and physical health care for all of our patients but it really takes a community approach to make substantial and lasting change, especially with our most vulnerable child population. Research is confirming that the most important factors in creating resiliency in our children to allow them to recover from various traumas are the community interventions not individual interventions.
The challenge ahead of us is to foster this sense of community for all children by better collaboration and integration of all our community resources.
Adapted from “The Connecticut Tragedy: How to Help Children Cope With Frightening News” by Harold S. Koplewicz, MD, Child Mind Institute [firstname.lastname@example.org] – 12/14/2012