by Rachel Still (former RW Intern), Reach Within and R Evans
Child abuse and abandonment can cause brain changes that can have significant long-term effects on physical, emotional and cognitive well-being.
Reach Within, a local charity currently working in residential care homes across the island and in a community drop-in centre in St George’s, is using trauma-informed care interventions to help children heal from developmental trauma.
Based in behavioural science, Reach Within uses rhythm as a tool to regulate the nervous system and re-pattern neural pathways that have been altered by trauma. Curriculum-based, therapeutic sessions include yoga, drumming, swimming, running and a (soon to be implemented) martial arts programme. Reach Within also educates adults on how trauma affects the developing brain so adults can respond directly to the child’s immediate needs and prevent re-traumatisation.
But what happens after a trauma-informed intervention? What happens after children begin to unravel the complex impact of a traumatic childhood? Simply put, the work never ends. For children who have experienced severe trauma, it is essential to continue to provide a sense of safety and support as they grow.
For adolescents and young adults, a Transitional Living Programme (TLP) can create the much-needed continuity of care and support for the next steps in life. Traditionally, transitional living programmes offer opportunities for life and interpersonal skill-building, educational and job assistance, as well as counselling. These types of programmes also foster a strong relationship between staff and the youth they serve, equipping them with a consistent caregiver figure to whom they can reach out for assistance and support.
Three years ago, Reach Within officially launched its very own Transitional Living Programme (TLP) for adolescents ageing out of residential care, led by Troy Clarke. Clarke holds a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science and also earned his Family Development Credential (FDC) from New York, Cornell University’s Department of Youth and Community Development. After working for several years in New York City, Clarke returned to his island home to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, who was a Psychiatric Nurse here.
As the Transitional Living Programme Coordinator, Clarke begins his work while youth are still living in residential care and actively involved in Reach Within rhythm programmes. This allows him to begin the process of trust building and forming a mentoring relationship before the transition from residential care actually happens. In group settings, Clarke leads life and interpersonal skills training, helping the youth find their footing both in the professional world and in their personal lives. Clarke also recognises that each adolescent is an individual and needs support in a variety of areas at different times, whether that be support in job searching and interview preparation, college applications or in having the necessary supplies for living independently.
For Reach Within, the Transitional Living Programme is a community effort and Clarke has partnered with several local restaurants to host monthly TLP dinners; using this event to teach his clients about restaurant careers, as well as work-related dinner etiquette. Over time, Reach Within has developed partnerships with various hotels and businesses around Grenada to connect youth with both full- and part-time job opportunities.
For someone who has wanted to give back to his country, Clarke is proud of his work with Reach Within. Overall, he feels his clients have taken massive strides toward self-sufficiency and self-awareness, as well as growth in maturity and the willingness to continue reaching out for assistance as they pursue longer-term goals.
If you would like to find out more about Reach Within, please visit: www.reachwithin.org
Murphy, A., Steele, H., Steele, M., Allman, B., Kastner, T., & Dube, S. R. (2016). The Clinical Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Questionnaire: Implications for trauma-informed behavioural healthcare. In R. D. Briggs (Ed.), Integrated early childhood behavioural health in primary care: A guide to implementation and evaluation (p. 7–16). Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-31815-8_2
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