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Program Aims to Infuse Trauma-Informed Practices in Rural NC


Monday, March 7, 2022

Beginning this month, a leadership program in Rural North Carolina is helping local organizations implement trauma-informed practices.

Organizers of the Resilient Leaders Initiative explained their goal is to help residents tackle the root cause of harm and promote healing.

According to the Center for Healthcare Strategies, a trauma-informed approach includes understanding how traumatic experiences such as abuse and neglect, displacement from natural disasters, and community violence affects physical and mental health.

Vichi Jagannathan, program director for the Resilient Leaders Initiative and co-founder of the Rural Opportunity Institute, said policies aimed at addressing trauma can look different in rural regions.

“Even when we try to look at, what does trauma-informed discipline look like or policing, a lot of times the solutions that we find don’t quite work in our context because of our unique challenges,” Jagannathan pointed out. “Part of the goal is to support organizations to develop new practices.”

Last year Edgecombe and Wilson County Public Schools, Word Tabernacle Church’s pre-K program, and Greater is Coming ministries participated in the program’s first cohort. According to research by the North Carolina Institute of Medicine, more than half of North Carolinians say they’ve experienced some form of childhood trauma.

Jagannathan noted the COVID-19 crisis has shed light on the importance of promoting resilience and healing, especially as communities and local economies work to recover from the pandemic.

“We just know that we’re not the only rural community that suffers from these types of challenges,” Jagannathan emphasized. “But there just isn’t a knowledge base and there certainly isn’t a network of all of us sharing about what is working.”

She added there are resources available for rural groups seeking to incorporate a trauma-informed approach to everyday work.

“We do have the opportunity to just offer coaching,” Jagannathan stressed, “So even if they can’t go through this nine-month process that’s about to start, there are opportunities to connect with a network of coaches around the country who have expertise in this stuff.”