Born Out of Tragedy
BY DENVER LIFE MAGAZINE – AUGUST 1, 2014
POSTED IN: EDITOR’S PICKS, HEART OF DENVER
The Sandy Hook Columbine Cooperative helps ensure that trauma does not dull the light of hope for children.
The Sandy Hook Columbine Cooperative
By Kaleigh Lawson
There are children all over the United States who are dealing with the trauma of a life-changing event. Whether they witness the death of a loved one, survived a natural disaster or were a victim in a school shooting, many kids are facing a lifetime of healing.
Sandy Hook Columbine Cooperative (SHCC) intends to make this process easier.
After Carly and Dave Posey dealt firsthand with the trauma of their son witnessing the Sandy Hook school shooting in his classroom and among his friends, they wanted to create an easily accessible source for families to find answers and recover. “We realized that we wanted to turn this bad experience into a positive experience, and that was helping others through what we had learned and been through,” says Carly. Now living in Parker, the Posey’s are seeking a new beginning and helping local children dealing with trauma.
The Posey’s met with Carolyn Lunsford Mears, Ph.D., both a parent of a Columbine survivor and an award-winning author and researcher on the subjects of school safety and trauma response and recovery. Together they concluded that others would benefit from a website that gives information in a way that people could understand; their nonprofit, Sandy Hook Columbine Cooperative (SHCC), was born. Working with parents of Columbine seemed like a no-brainer to the Posey’s since they had the same mission in mind. Being able to connect their stories to SHCC encouraged more attention and shined a light on the sincerity of their operation. “Having our story attached to it helps people take them more seriously and they see the passion behind it,” says Carly.
The foundation’s website not only educates people on trauma and forms of recovery, but it’s also a valuable tool for teachers who can learn to recognize the signs of children facing trauma and help them recover. “Our goal is to have schools aware and informed about trauma with children,” says Carly.
The Sandy Hook Columbine Cooperative
SHCC is made up of three different ideas: readiness, preparing for an actual event whether it be a shooting, suicide or natural disaster; response, which involves the community and support that happens in the year following the traumatic event; and recovery, which happens past the first year in order to continue healing.
SHCC should not be mistaken for therapy, but rather a system that communities and schools can turn to in order to recognize someone who has experienced trauma. “It is not therapy, but how to identify trauma and to be able to push them to other resources,” says Dave. By providing the right information from the start, more children can immediately receive the help they need to prevent any longterm difficulties. “We want to see all kids have what our kids have,” says Carly.
SHCC is beginning locally in hopes that the cooperative will spread to other schools across the country. “A teacher in California is even using it,” says Dave. With the positive response from parents and teachers, there is only one direction the foundation can go, and that is forward.
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN , 2008) reports that one in four schoolchildren in the U.S. have experienced a traumatic event that can have a profound effect on their behavior and learning. More than 25 percent of American youth experience a serious traumatic event by their 16th birthday, and many children suffer multiple repeated traumas. After a crisis or traumatic event, a child is at risk of developing traumatic stress. About 25 percent of victims and witnesses of violence develop PTSD , depression or anxiety disorders. If you or someone you know is dealing with a traumatic event, visit sandyhookcolumbine.org to begin the path to recovery. Stay updated at facebook.com/sandyhookcolumbine