BUILDING RESILIENCE

Gabrielle's Story

With a steady stream of air leaving her pursed lips, Gabrielle is relaxed. Meditation helps her
feel calm. It’s teaching her a way to cope with difficult emotions.

No, this isn’t a yoga studio. It’s a fourth grade classroom at Clinton Avenue School in Fair Haven. As you enter the room, the first thing you notice is the serene music and tranquil environment. It’s easy to forget that students sitting on the rug in the center of the room are nine and 10 year olds, and they haven’t even eaten lunch yet.

Our kids are impacted by trauma.

According to a recent Fair Haven neighborhood well-being survey, nearly 70% of residents say they don’t feel safe walking in Fair Haven. Have you ever heard a gunshot in your neighborhood? Here, 75% have heard more than one gunshot ring out. These rates are alarming.

“It’s okay to be angry or frustrated, but it’s how you respond to that which makes the difference,” said Jennifer Ricker from Rain of Hope.

Meditation is one of the skills that United Way partner Rain of Hope teaches students.

Your support funds this program, and many more, in eight New Haven Public Schools.

United Way works with schools where students experience a lot of trauma at home and in their neighborhoods. United Way brings in partners who help kids connect with each other and caring adults. They help students unwind, make friends, and build their confidence. We’re talking about yoga, dancing, storytelling, animal therapy, high ropes courses, and mindfulness programs.

Students who need clinical support can also receive it.

With caring adults and programs like this, kids can build resilience.

Research tells us that resilience is a muscle, and United Way is helping our kids build it. Students are learning positive strategies to deal with anger, loss, and conflict. This means
they will grow into happier, healthier, and more successful adults.

A trial published in the journal Developmental Psychology suggests that the effects of meditation are powerful in kids as young as nine. It improved everything from social skills to math scores.

We want to make these services available for all of our children.

We are proud of the fact that we are serving over 2,300 students through this work. But that’s not meeting the need in our community as a whole. We know that 90% of New Haven students have been exposed to trauma, which translates into tens of thousands of children who could
benefit from increased access to programming that builds their resilience. We need your support so that together we can do better for our kids.

Back inside Clinton Avenue School, Jennifer is giving students soft-spoken advice as the session comes to an end.

“Be mindful of your surroundings, others, and of your own actions. Actions result in consequences. Both positive, and negative. You choose your consequences. How we react to
a situation can change it.”

Together, we can make a difference for Gabrielle and all students in greater New Haven.

“It’s okay to be angry or frustrated, but it’s how you respond to that which makes the difference.”

United Way works with schools where students experience a lot of trauma at home and in their neighborhoods. United Way brings in partners who help kids connect with each other and caring adults. They help students unwind, make friends, and build their confidence. We’re talking about yoga, dancing, storytelling, animal therapy, high ropes courses, and mindfulness programs. Students who need clinical support can also receive it.