One of the most widespread impacts from both the 2017 and 2019 fires was on our community’s mental health. “Children are especially impacted by disaster, often experiencing trauma-related fears, anxiety and sleep disruption, even after the disaster is over, ” said Karin Demarest, vice president for community impact for Community Foundation Sonoma County.

If it goes unaddressed, trauma can have long-term effects on children’s security at home and also on their performance in schools.
Faced with a community still reeling from back-to-back disasters, our healing grants are focused on addressing trauma head-on, building resiliency skills, and lessening the impacts of PTSD in affected communities.

Knowing the particular impacts on children, we’ve looked for programs that reach professionals who are interacting with children routinely in their jobs—folks who might need additional training to support kids who are struggling to cope.

Recently, we funded scholarships for 37 teachers, school counselors and administrators—working in low-income schools across seven local districts—to attend the inaugural Hanna Institute Summit, The Ecology of Resilience: Transformation Through Trauma-Informed Care.

The three-day summit, hosted at Hanna Boys Center in Sonoma, offered educators, school administrators, clinicians, care providers, and community leaders the opportunity to learn about trauma-informed care directly from experts in the field.

Julian Ford, president of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, and professor at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, was one of four keynote speakers at the event. His talk looked at the toll that natural disasters take on a community and offered training on what teachers and caregivers can do to recognize trauma and help children heal.

Over lunch, participants engaged in creative workshops: a nature hike, deep breathing and movement sessions led by facilitators trained by the Sonoma Community Resilience Collaborative (another Resilience Fund grantee) and culturally relevant art classes hosted by members of the Raizes Collective.

Over 400 people took part in the training, with attendees buzzing about taking their learning back to their workplaces to be implemented.

To learn more about Hanna Institute, visit:

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