Greenup County, Ky. (WOWK) – Greenup County Schools started a new program this school year to assist kids who are dealing with trauma. The program is in response to the Kentucky Legislature passing Senate Bill 1 this year, the School Safety and Resiliency Act, which mandates schools provide care and resources to kids experiencing trauma.
The school district implemented the Trauma Sensitive Schools Program this school year in all of its schools. The entire staff from the principals all the way down to the bus drivers have been trained in how to identify a student experiencing trauma.
“Maybe isolating themselves. . . hiding under a desk. . . behaviors that are trying to get attention” said Melissa Barry, a teacher at Greenup County Schools.
Barry said trauma can be anything from a child experiencing sexual or physical abuse, to someone whose parents are going through a divorce. However, when those kids are identified it is important they have someone to talk to.
“First and foremost it is building a relationship. You have to have someone who will be there to listen to that child,” said Greenup County Schools district administrator Melissa Latimer.
Latimer also said for kids who are acting up and being disruptive in class, they have a sensory room. It is a safe and relaxing space with calming blankets, soothing music, and a pool filled with rubber balls that they can jump in, and if the kids want they can even pick up the balls and throw them.
“So instead of when I become angry . . . I start throwing things. What are some other things I can do to release that anger,” said Latimer.
School officials said trauma can affect a child’s ability to learn and develop, and it is important to help these kids early before they reach high school, and it becomes something much more serious and potentially dangerous.
Latimer said they have a trauma team on-site at each school to help kids in trouble made up of about five to seven people, including a school counselor and school resource officer.
Greenup County Schools has more than 2,400 students, and all seven schools in the district are participating in the program.
Parents in the district are kept involved in the progress of the program through a monthly newsletter.