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More than 70 people joined SCAN’s Board of Directors on October 24 to learn about childhood trauma and SCAN’s work in the Circle Preschool Program to help children who have experienced trauma related to abuse, neglect or exposure to domestic violence.
Lynne Edwards has spent more than 40 years working with children and families and currently works for the Virginia Department of Social Services. Lynne is respected by SCAN and other organizations as an expert on childhood trauma. She has partnered with SCAN to inform our programs and the community at large. Lynne described to the audience what childhood trauma is and why it is so important to prevent and treat it.
“It overwhelms children’s capacity to cope,” she said. “It becomes a major distraction in carrying out day to day tasks, which is what differentiates it from how we might manage trauma to what happens with children. It affects their ability to trust other people and has a profound impact on their perception of themselves. They are full of fear and anxiety. They might be withdrawn, sometimes aggressive. They are a challenge in the classroom, a challenge at home….”
Dr. Fred Orelove then spoke. Fred worked for 30 years as a professor of special education and disability policy at VCU. Among many roles throughout the community, he is now a weekly volunteer in SCAN’s Circle Preschool Program two days a week. He spoke to guests about his experience in the program. He shared one story about how he witnesses the impact of the program.
“I remember one day this past spring, I was working with a young child–a four-year-old girl,” Fred began. “She was very angry. She had good reason to be. Her normal state was that of fear and anger. I was working with her at the water table one day with another child. I looked over and saw something I had never seen before in many weeks of working with her. It was a smile. I realized I had never seen this girl smile before… What SCAN is doing in the Circle Preschool Program with these youngsters, is giving these children their childhoods back.”
Finally, SCAN welcomed Donna, who is the aunt of a child served by the Circle Preschool Program. She detailed the history of the child’s trauma, which involved physical and sexual abuse. Donna received custody of this young girl after these incidents came to light. Then, she shared the changes she has witnessed in her niece’s life and in her family.
“She started the preschool on March 28, 2011,” Donna said. “She went straight through until two weeks before school started this year. The difference was that this child came to me, clinging to me, she was pitiful and in a state of despair. Now, on the first day of school, she got on the bus and said ‘See ya, Mom!’… Kathy and Denise were right there from every angle. From the educational angle to the psychological angle, to knowing the history, to knowing how to deal with it. Unfortunately there are bad things that go on in the world. The good part is there are people like those who work for SCAN.”
SCAN is fortunate to have talented staff member and community partners who make this program possible. SCAN hopes the work in the Circle Preschool will be used throughout the community, the state and the country to improve the lives of children in need. Thank you to everyone who contributes to SCAN to make this program possible.
It cost $15,000 for one child to participate in the Circle Preschool for one year. If you are interested in contributing towards a scholarship, please contact Megan at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.