Cleveland City Council renews push for trauma resource programs at rec centers

Published: May. 18, 2022 at 9:35 PM EDT|Updated: May. 18, 2022 at 9:36 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - When you think of a neighborhood recreation center, the image of kids running around carefree, shooting basketballs, or tossing around a baseball is probably the first image that comes to mind.

In some cases and at some times, in the Cleveland rec centers that can be true, but it is certainly not the complete story.

There has been just too much violence in the city of Cleveland for it not to have had an effect on almost every child in the city, at least that is the opinion of city council president Blaine Griffin.

“If you go to the average rec center, and you say, ‘Who has watched their peers or experienced their peers get shot or have seen someone get shot or have been shot themselves,’ the whole room would put their hand up,” Griffin said.

Council used words like “toxic stress” when they approved legislation to continue with a program that offers trauma recovery infused programming in the city’s rec centers.

The city is hiring consultants to further develop, design, and implement trauma-informed programming in hopes of helping young people and families deal with the stress of violence on city streets and sometimes in the home.

Griffin sees this as critical for young people who need to develop the skills to overcome the challenges of dealing with trauma.

“We want our rec centers to be a relief valve, we want to put good programming in those rec centers so it’s not just a holding space or young people,” he said.

To that end, the program has brought in professional trauma coaches and social workers.

But also, in an effort to gain trust, an investment was made in training the people who already were available in the rec centers... Familiar faces.

“We want to make sure we have real trained social workers and professionals but also, in addition, we want to make sure the workers who a lot of the families and children trust, that work in the rec centers, we also want to make sure that they are trained,” Griffin said.

The rec centers in Cleveland will continue to offer the usual programming including life skills and work training programs.

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