Writer: Johnny Morgan at firstname.lastname@example.org
The LSU AgCenter recently held a series of virtual webinars to prepare those working with youth to recognize trauma and how to help.
The Helping Communities Cope training was offered to help 4-H agents across the state who are noticing the impact of recent events such as the COVID-19 pandemic and hurricanes on youth and communities, said LSU AgCenter regional 4-H coordinator Lanette Hebert.
The pandemic is a major cause of trauma in young people in many areas of the country, but in Louisiana, many young people are coping with an extra burden — the psychological effects of hurricanes, she said.
“In cooperation with 7-Dippity, Inc., a Florida-based organization, we educated our 4-H agents on how to help those who are experiencing trauma,” she said. “And we opened it up to our community partners, other youth-serving agencies and school systems.”
Participants were presented with strategies for talking with children, understanding their stress and providing tips for coping.
They were reminded that there is no cookie-cutter approach for dealing with children who are experiencing trauma.
The 7-Dippity company specializes in capacity building and education, said Scott Sevin, president of 7-Dippity.
Annette M. La Greca, distinguished professor of psychology and pediatrics at the University of Miami-Coral Gables, teamed up with 7-Dippity to create “Helping Children and Families Cope with the COVID-19 Pandemic,” an interactive guide based on research conducted with children following previous disasters.
The information and activities contained in this this guide provide resilience-enhancing strategies that are designed for an adult to work on with a child 6 to 12 years of age.
La Greca and 7-Dippity have previously worked together to support communities affected by disasters including the 9/11 terrorist attacks; hurricanes Katrina, Maria and Michael; and earthquakes in Haiti and Japan.
Sevin said the company was started in 1980 by his mom, who was a teacher. She suffered an
injury and could no longer teach, but still wanted to help kids, he said.
“She started out creating curriculums and other different educational materials,” he said. “Then we evolved over the years, and now we are more of a consulting entity that specializes in what you call capacity building.”
This simply means building the capacity of a school system, a city or even a country to do something better than it’s currently being done, he said.
Sevin said the company began working with the AgCenter after Hurricane Katrina and developed brochures and conducted some trainings to help people to cope with that disaster.
“Between the hurricanes and COVID, it has been a very stressful year,” he said. “We want to help the participants to recognize the signs of trauma in kids and to teach them what they can do to help the children.
Hebert said this training aligns with the social-emotional learning component of the state 4-H program. The two guidebooks used focused on trauma after the storm, and the other dealt with COVID-19, she said.