The two-day free event consisted of highly participatory and discussion-based consensus building sessions and keynote speaker, Robin Saenger. Sessions involved the impact of trauma, responses to trauma, developing a common vision, creating a common strategy and moving toward long term sustainable change. Day one specifically educated the attendees on defining common language of trauma, toxic stress and trauma informed care in order to better understand the problem and its current impact in Athens. After participants understood the realities of trauma, the summit began a facilitated discussion in which they generated ideas on how to address trauma and toxic stress at the local level. When returning for day two, the attendees were ready to draft plans and begin action on transforming Athens in a trauma informed community (TIC).
With a population of over 120,000, it is essential that we all become trauma informed citizens to better the local community. The Community Summit on Trauma & Toxic Stress garnered so much local interest that the event had to be capped at 240. The interest is considered to be the result of trauma being a top issue in Georgia, especially for students. For example, over 600 students and families in Clark County suffer from homelessness while about 300 Athens children are currently in the foster system. These are the issues that result in trauma – an occurrence which is outside the scope of everyday human experience and which would be notably distressing to almost anyone (American Psychiatric Association, 1987). However, we have provided the Community Summit on Trauma & Toxic Stress’ trauma informed systems to help address the issue in Athens:
- Realize the impact of trauma, toxic stress and ACEs.
- Recognize the signs and symptoms of trauma.
- Respond by fully integrating this knowledge into policies procedures and practices.
- Resist retraumatization (SAMSHA, NCTSN).
Continue to help make Athens a trauma informed community by learning more information at http://a2aathens.weebly.com/ and utilizing their resource page. Trauma not only affects adults, but also our youth. Be for the child and our community!