Parents finding their own voice...
LEAD is currently focusing on organizing parents with children impacted by racism and poverty in the City of Dayton to enable them to develop their own voice and advocate for positive community and educational change.
A pilot program was conducted at the Westwood PreK-6 Neighborhood School in the Westwood community where recruited parents were invited to identify concerns about their children's education and development. They identified childhood trauma as the issue they wanted to address. LEAD staff and volunteers facilitated the recruitment, training, and engagement of the participating parents in the process. At regular weekly meetings parents engaged in research on childhood trauma through questionnaires, videos, reports and interviews. Through their research they learned much about the nature of childhood trauma, its impact on child development, its affect on educational development and the emerging local and national movement toward development of trauma-sensitive schools. It was a time to ask questions and to get answers about how things worked and how to make a difference. They got a report from the school counselor on the widespread presence of trauma among the children attending the school and how that trauma interfered significantly in their being able to learn and to function socially. The parents planned and conducted interviews with the principal at Westwood to determine what the school was doing to address these difficult realities and help the children to learn.
The meetings were an opportunity for parents to share with other parents their concerns and hopes for their children’s education and future and get answers to their questions about the development and schooling of their children. It involved shared conversation, both listening and speaking initially to identify their children's needs and opportunities across a full spectrum of their lived experience. It was a time to focus on issues facing their families, their community and their school. It was a time to share personal experiences and to learn from each other.
Parents formulated recommendations for action, based on their research findings. They wanted a community forum to be held for the larger community to share what they had learned about childhood trauma, its impact on children's learning, and what was being done to make changes at the school. They wanted workshops for parents to help them deal with both their own trauma and the trauma of their children. And they wanted the school to become a "trauma-informed school" where all of the staff, including the cafeteria workers, bus drivers, office staff as well as the teachers were trained to deal with childhood trauma in healing ways.