Sometimes the toughest jobs have the most amazing rewards. As a counselor, I work with children. Underprivileged youth. Many of them have experienced traumatic events in their lives. Events that have transformed them into “little adults.”
Some of these children have such a hardened worldview. At times, you can’t see childhood innocence in their interactions with each other. It almost seems as if the wonder of childhood is gone for them. Every day, these children deal with far more serious issues, such as:
A lot of my focus is on making sure we meet these children’s basic needs, for example:
- single parent households
- lack of food
- lack of adequate clothing
- lack of opportunities
- poor education
- proper uniforms
- school supplies
- resources for parents and guardians
The Effects of Adverse Childhood Experience
Once we take care of these basic needs, it’s my job to combat Adverse Childhood Experience. Childhood experiences, positive or negative, can have a monumental impact on the future. Violence. Victimization and perpetration. Lifelong health problems. Lack of opportunity. It’s all interconnected.
As the number of Adverse Childhood Experiences increase, so do the chances of:
Research shows that child poverty can lead to toxic stress. This disrupts the structure of a child’s developing brain.
Children living in poverty are more likely to experience violence. They can also suffer chronic neglect and the burdens of economic hardship. All these things cause prolonged stress. This can lead to lifelong difficulties in learning, memory, and self-regulation.
- Risky health behaviors
- Chronic health conditions
- Early death
- Poor work performance
- Financial stress
- Risk of intimate partner violence
- Multiple sex partners
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Suicide attempts
- Unintended pregnancies
- Early initiation of smoking
- Early initiation of sexual activity
- Adolescent pregnancy
- Risk of sexual violence
- Poor academic achievement
How I’ve Worked with Disadvantaged Children
Many scholars argue that poverty is the greatest threat to healthy brain development.
Therefore, I work hard to give hope to the poor for a better future. That’s why it’s one of our main goals at Potter’s Gate Charities Inc.
I’m African-American. From a middle-class background. Working in this community is heartbreaking, sometimes. But I survive. And through this experience, I have become an advocate. A helper and a confidant for the underprivileged children and families I serve.
You may be wondering what I did to change the lives of these people. I didn’t reinvent the wheel. I just provided a supportive environment and built relationships with them. All in the interest of reducing their overall levels of trauma.
Most underprivileged children and disadvantaged families suffer from:
- learning disabilities
- mental health issues exacerbated by trauma
One method I use to build trust with underprivileged people is to try my best to learn about them. To get to know their likes and dislikes. Then, once they trust me, they can come to me with their problems and their achievements. They know I’m available whenever they need me.
Keeping Communication Open
Keeping my word and keeping communication open. These are two key factors in creating and maintaining relationships with kids suffering from trauma.
During our sessions, I often recommend journaling. It gives children an outlet for their thoughts and feelings. It helps decrease their emotional outbursts and negative behaviors. Both at school and at home. We discuss what they write and use modeling and role-playing to teach better behavior.
Most of my methods come from Computer Based Training. In my experience, this approach works well with at-risk children.
Overall, my goal is to help people cope with life’s challenges. To help them have positive new experiences and build better relationships. To teach more appropriate behaviors, and, above all, resilience.
Make a difference in the lives of others has made an incredible impact on my own life.
As I said in the beginning, sometimes the toughest jobs have the most amazing rewards. On the first day after summer break, I get to connect again with the kids. That’s when they tell me they missed me. When I get to see how eager they are to tell me about their summer. That’s when I know I’ve made a difference.