Helping kids cope with trauma: Coventry launches town-wide training initiative

Education

COVENTRY, R.I. (WPRI) — Every adult in Coventry who works directly with children is set to learn how to spot and address various forms of childhood trauma as part of a new program rolled out on Wednesday.

Superintendent Craig Levis laid out the details of the Coventry Trauma-Informed Community initiative, which aims to reduce bullying, substance abuse, aggression, school dropouts, and suicidal thoughts.

Levis said he hopes the town will become a model for other Rhode Island communities when it comes to supporting children suffering from mental and physical health issues.

“The world’s different today,” he said. “Kids are different today, and we have an opportunity collectively to make such a difference.”

Over the next three years, the program will train “every adult in Coventry who has an impact on a child’s life to understand the impact that trauma has on a child and be proactive in their life.” This includes anyone from teachers to bus drivers, coaches, first responders, healthcare workers, and even school committee and town council members.

Levis said the plan is to train all school personnel in the first year then move to those in municipal government in the second year and finally, in the third year, bring the training to the community at large.

He also said the town plans to hold a summit during the third year to share its experiences and successes.

The initiative was made possible by a nearly $450,000 grant from the Rhode Island Foundation’s Behavioral Health Fund, which in turn received a five-year, $5 million commitment from Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island.

Bob Robillard, director of the Coventry Resource and Senior Center, said the center looked to a Florida community that’s been trauma-informed for more than a decade for assistance. Tarpon Springs has agreed to be a sibling city during the process.

Parent Guide: Bullying Prevention, Spotting the Signs of Drug Abuse, and More »

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