Our Motivation for a Healing-Centered District
Why this, why now?
Traumatic experiences are incredibly common. In fact, the majority of us have experienced potentially traumatic events in childhood. Trauma physically changes the way our brains work. Trauma “short-circuits” the complex thinking and feeling parts of the brain and keeps us in a fearful survival state. We stay focused on safety and enter “fight, flight, or freeze” mode even when there are no threats.
We know that a majority of us experience trauma during our lives. However, experiencing trauma is not simply a result of random chance or individual life choices. People who are a part of historically oppressed groups — whether due to race, immigration status, income level, gender identity, sexual orientation, zip code, or other factors — are more likely to experience trauma as a result of that oppression. Trauma is fundamentally an equity issue.
Traumatic experiences are not a new phenomenon, nor is the importance of addressing trauma with appropriate support. However, on top of existing sources of trauma, 2020 brought multiple traumatic crises to Chicago families, including threats to health and economic stability as a result of COVID-19 and lasting legacies of systemic racism. The need for healing is more urgent now than ever.
So what can we do?
Negative outcomes from traumatic experiences are far from guaranteed. Traumatic events are only traumatic if we experience them that way. In fact, we can build protective barriers, such as healthy relationships and safe & supportive environments, that prevent our brains from short-circuiting and help our brains return to their best way of working. This is where CPS comes in. We know that to support our students, we must promote the healing needed to build protective barriers and buffer against trauma. In short, we need to become a healing-centered district.