Yesterday my daughter asked me what has to be the hardest question a child can ask a parent.
“Why didn’t you save me?”
Thankfully, in this case, she was only talking about the sidewalk that reached up and grabbed her scooter, sending her over the handlebars to the sidewalk below. While traumatic, she will heal and hardly remember. The Tooth Fairy’s visit and the bowl of jello for breakfast certainly provided a silver lining if there ever was one.
Meanwhile, across the rest of the world, we are hearing more about the attacks in Paris, Lebanon, Kenya, and other devastating attacks across the world. In our own backyard, children are living at the intersection of trauma, violence, poverty, and oppression. A growing number face mental and physical health challenges, or are subject to those affecting their parents or siblings. Unsurprisingly, they arrive at school distracted at best, traumatized at worst.
Children are resilient. Except when they are not. Some will be okay, maybe stronger; relying on their own resolve, self-esteem, and the love surrounding them. Some will need considerably more help to get there. They will need programs and professionals to walk them (and their family) through a process of grief, growth, and renewal. Without these supports, many of them won’t bounce back.
Every day, children and teens walk through the doors (or across the bridge) to Wediko and invite our teachers, clinicians, and staff to support their effort to persevere through life’s challenges and come out stronger because of it.
Wediko School-Based Program partners with teachers and administrators to strategically build the structures that support resiliency, learning, and safety. Wediko Community-Based Programs partners with families and community members to do the same. Of course, we work directly with the child. But for this work to take hold and sustain through various difficulties, children need the important adults in their lives to help build a fence around them.
The fence won’t keep bad things from happening. Unfortunately, no one can offer that. But, in a time of crisis, this fence gives kids the space, necessary safety, and protection to build the skills needed to face challenges, persevere through this adversity, and get better.
Wediko’s residential programs are all about building this fence. With the help of Wediko supports, families, schools, and the community learn to become this fence. With their safety assured, children can begin the sometimes lengthy process of developing and improving resiliency. As students begin to understand their responses and reactions to stress, develop safety, and build necessary coping skills, they are better able to manage relationships, access school resources and curriculum, and have fun. These are the building blocks for an empowered child.
Wediko School establishes an environment where teachers, residential staff, clinicians and supervisors utilize a wide array of tools and strategies to engage students, build relationships, and establish safety. It’s not easy work. Our students need a sturdy, supportive fence to get there. But we, and in turn these children and their families, know it’s possible. So we keep working.
Like my daughter, children can heal with the proper supports. Sometimes it just takes more than a dentist and some jello. Thanks to Wediko, I am fortunate to also have the training and expertise needed to help children experiencing significant challenge to surmount problems. Thanks to Wediko, when my daughter asks why I didn’t save her, I can tell her I did.