Local News

Whiteside County partnership seeks help in its effort to alleviate childhood trauma

STERLING – The Whiteside County Healthier Communities Partnership is asking community members to help as the group launches a multiyear effort to alleviate and reduce childhood trauma.

The partnership needs help gathering information crucial to its planning, it said in a news release.

Anyone regardless of residence is invited to participate; the information gleaned will be used to create programs, educational materials and other resources. Participants remain anonymous, and it takes only about 5 minutes to complete.

“We are referring to intense or scary events that threaten or cause harm to a child’s emotional and physical well-being,” the introduction to the survey says.

“Trauma is different than everyday stress. If your child gets nervous before a test at school or going to a new place, you can help them through this type of stress. Trauma is an extreme event that threatens the psychological and physical well-being of the child.”

“The WCHCP believes to have a successful childhood trauma program, it is important to get information from the parents of children who have experienced trauma,” Chairwoman Beth Fiorini said.

“We are asking people to complete a survey to help us create the best possible resources we can to assist area children and families.”

Even those who do not have childhood-trauma related experiences can participate, and provide their impressions of available resources or opinions on what resources might be lacking, the release said.

In early 2021, the partnership adopted the goal “to impact agency and community awareness, through education and trainings,” of screenings to identify childhood trauma caused by abuse, neglect or other adverse experiences, with the aim of increasing positive outcomes.

“Childhood trauma can affect a child for the rest of his/her life,” Fiorini said in the release. “Children who have faced adversity need supportive relationships, adaptive skill-building and positive experiences to develop resilience so they can be successful.”

The National Institute of Mental Health defines childhood trauma as “the experience of an event by a child that is emotionally painful or distressful, which often results in lasting mental and physical effects.”

Childhood trauma affects a child’s brain development, and unless treated affects the child’s ability to cope and be productive healthy children and adults.

Participants have until Oct. 29 to complete the survey. Scan the QR code or go to go.illinois.edu/ChildhoodTrauma to complete it.

Kathleen Schultz

Kathleen A. Schultz

Kathleen Schultz is a Sterling native with 40 years of reporting and editing experience in Arizona, California, Montana and Illinois.