HAMILTON, NJ -- Seeking to reverse the impact of adverse childhood experiences, and trauma, the Hamilton Township Public School District, through a partnership with the Child Wellness Institute of NJ, launched a Trauma Transformation Initiative (TTI) last year to help faculty recognize, respond to, and prevent trauma students who may be facing trauma. 

According to reports four out of ten children have experienced at least one adverse childhood experience while an estimated 18 percent of children have experienced multiple traumatic events.

“While we cannot always change a child’s home environment, we can work to create a safe, healthy, and positive school climate. This project will involve in-person trainings, on-site observations, classroom calm down kits/posters, brain lessons for students and support for parents,” said Jennifer Marinello, principal at Lalor Elementary School where the program began earlier this month when school faculty through a new wellness program to help identify and support students who may be experiencing trauma. 

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The District will undertake TTI as a professional development series to train teachers and faculty to recognize, respond to, and prevent trauma with our students.  The series began on January 3 with a Sensory Walk Installation and a Lalor Elementary Faculty workshop on January 7. The remaining training sessions will address self-care, resilience-building strategies, trauma-informed principles, and advanced trauma strategies. This program includes a focus on wellness for all students, providing a walk/sensory path for students, referred to as a “wellness walk.”

Trauma Transformation projects have demonstrated that such training helps teachers feel more confident in responding to a "dysregulated" child. Behaviors in the classroom can become less “challenging” when children begin to feel safer and learn how to cope with big emotions.

According to Senior VP of the Child Wellness Institute of NJ, Ms. Gina Hernandez, “Other Trauma Transformation Initiatives have proven that as schools become more trauma-informed, teachers feel more confident in responding to a child experiencing stress. In addition, teachers experience fewer challenging classroom behaviors once the children begin to feel safer and learn how to cope with big emotions.”

After the training program, the Lalor Climate and Culture Team will continue to practice and teach the TTI methodology.  The program is funded by the Nordson Foundation and Customer’s Bank and will run between January and June with the Lalor Elementary School Climate team. 

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