In the last seven months, the Self-Healing Communities Project has reached over 1,600 people in Crow Wing County. In case you haven’t heard, the self-healing communities’ model is designed to build a community’s capacity to improve outcomes for health and social issues by reducing and preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). The project now has reached into many parts of the community; including organizations, churches, businesses, school districts and various branches of local government. The goal for this initial phase of the project is to concentrate our focus in the Northeast neighborhoods of Brainerd.
Awareness and education are definitely the foundation of this initiative, and presentations are offered free-of-charge to groups of all sizes. Thanks to the generosity of local funders and multiple sponsoring churches, businesses, and service clubs, the Self-Healing Communities Project has been able to host monthly, recurring trainings that include a free meal and free childcare for the past six months. Each of these presentations brings new faces and different demographics to the table, which is exactly what the project is about. “No decisions about you without you” has become a phrase to describe the grassroots concept of the project.
Another intended outcome from these presentations is the opportunity for deeper conversations among attendees; as well as the sharing of stories, concerns, ideas, and resources. This is where the “self-healing” component of the project will begin to take shape.
One recent example was last month, when a local couple attended the ACEs 101 presentation and brought their adopted teenage daughter to listen in as well. The teen had initially attended with reluctance, but during the presentation became intrigued and invested; and the family stayed late to ask more questions of our staff and share experiences of their own journeys with adversity and healing.
The following day, one of our staff received an email from the adoptive parents with gratitude for the information they learned from the presentation, reporting that their drive home together was filled with enlightened and hopeful dialogue, and that their teen already had asked to go to the next presentation (Resiliency 201).
So what will be happening next with the Self-Healing Communities Project? An educational series is currently being developed to provide classes and discussion groups for parents of Garfield and Lowell Elementary students. Late last year, a learning & support community for adoptive, foster & respite parents was launched, with bi-monthly meetings that include dinner & childcare. In addition, many different community partners have come together to begin developing a support & education series offered specifically for parents currently working with Child Protective Services. And of course we are eager to resume our outreach work in NE Brainerd, asking community members directly what they want to see changed in their neighborhoods.
This project is about capitalizing on the strengths of all community members, and it has the potential to transform the entire Lakes Area for the better in years to come. If you haven’t attended an ACEs 101 presentation yet, check out our website calendar to view upcoming events, and consider becoming a partner in the Self-Healing Communities work in Crow Wing County. Tom and Amy, Project Coordinators, can be reached at 218.825.7682.
Thank you for helping Bridges of Hope make a difference in our community.
Our work is made possible through your support. To make a tax-deductible gift to further the work of the Self-Healing Communities Project, click here.