Childhood trauma and adversity are a national epidemic and the root cause of the most urgent and costly problems that plague our kids, our families, and our communities. When left untreated, they have been shown to be linked to developmental and school challenges, drug use, homelessness, mass incarceration, and suicide. And they have long term health implications such as heart disease, mental illness, cancer, and even shortened lifespan. Probably not what you were expecting to read when you clicked the link.
What if I told you that we have decades of good science that show us what is required to effectively treat childhood trauma and reverse those negative outcomes? Now, what if I told you that all of that science can be boiled down to a very simple solution?
How do we tackle this challenge? With love.
You read that right. Love is what’s needed to tackle one of the most prevalent and important challenges we face as a society. Meaningful human connection. In fact, strong relational health, especially in the early years, is the number one predictor of long-term well-being
So what is relational health? Human connection in times of success… and in times of struggle.
- It is a baby nestled within a community of grownups who lovingly respond to her needs.
- It’s a toddler who trusts that adults will keep him safe and help him navigate his big feelings.
- It’s a young child who not only regularly hears the words ‘I love you’ but deeply feels it’s true.
Relational health is each of us, big and little, young and old, surrounded by the love and connection that we need to navigate life. It is the strong, healthy relationships that you have in your life.
To illustrate how relational health and love change lives, I’d like to share part of a story from one of our Childhaven parents, Shauna. Three years ago, Shauna went from no children to two children overnight as she became the legal guardian for two of her family members. The oldest child, Terricca, was three years old at the time and already had significant delays. By the time the family came to Childhaven, Terricca was a very shy five year old with limited vocabulary, texture sensitivity, and significant social and emotional challenges.
The family first received counseling services at Childhaven. Terricca made significant strides in a relatively short period of time. She then continued to flourish in her pre-kindergarten classroom forming bonds with her peers and overcoming many significant verbal delays. Shauna had this to say:
“Without the support of Childhaven, my children would not have survived. Childhaven is a community, a family, a team, and a place where both physical and mental health needs are addressed.
People often say what a blessing I am to have saved these kids from a life of neglect. But after the passing of my mother and my grandmother, who was my best friend, I would not have made it myself had I not had these babies to care for, to be responsible for, to love and to raise.
I can honestly say I have a future because of them, and our future is even brighter now, thanks to Childhaven.”~ Shauna (Parent at Childhaven)
Love is Shauna saying yes and bringing those children into her home and life. Love is those children giving Shauna a reason to keep going after suffering tremendous loss. Love is Childhaven supporting that bond between Shauna and her children.
Love transforms lives.
This is just one story. There are hundreds more like it within our programs. For every story like Shauna and Terricca’s, there are countless others where the family doesn’t have the supports they need to navigate such challenges.
That is why Childhaven is launching a movement to address the epidemic of childhood trauma and adversity through relationship, partnership, and innovation.
Here’s where you can help. This movement can only be successful with a growing community of support. We need partners like YOU – to give today, to spread the word, to talk about the antidote to childhood trauma and adversity, to talk about relational health and love being the answer. Are you ready? Please join us with your gift today.
We won’t stop until every child in our community feels loveable, and is loved. Please consider a gift today and help more children and families get the support and love they need to flourish. Thank you for being on this journey with us.