Collective for Healthy Communities
The Collective for Healthy Communities (CHC) is an initiative that provides community-level interventions that promote well-being and resilience using a social-ecological approach (focusing on the individual, interpersonal, community and societal levels). In addition, CHC advocates for policy changes that reduce the impact of traumatic exposures in children-at school, in the community, and in the home. CHC is funded by the W. Kellogg Foundation.
In its first year, our In That Number campaign had 10 million billboard impressions and bus ads were seen over 30,000 times a day for 6 months.
In its first year, In That Number gained 1400 new followers, with a Twitter reach of 242,967 and a Facebook reach of 81,077.
In That Number (ITN) is a public will campaign designed to change negative ideas about young people while advocating for youth-focused trauma-informed care services. The campaign also aims to break the school-to-prison pipeline and reduce school suspensions by promoting restorative and transformative justice. Beginning in 2012, CHC designed and has been conducting an Emotional Wellness Survey (EWS) to measure symptoms of poor mental health including depression, PTSD, and suicidality. The high levels of mental health symptoms and exposure to violence pushed IWES to create a strategy to change these statistics. ITN launched in 2016 aiming to change peoples' view of youth that "act out" from "bad," to possibly "sad" and in need of support services (#SadNotBad). The campaign includes a mix of traditional (billboards, bus ads, television PSA, newspaper articles) and new/social media tactics and features short narratives and powerful images from diverse youth that describe the trauma they experienced and the responses they received from the adults and systems around them. To provide the story behind the numbers, our EWS data is paired with each story to relate them back to the issues youth of New Orleans face.
In 2017, CHC embarked upon a new program that added a new layer to the In That Number campaign, IWES received a grant from the Open Society Foundations to address the rise in harassment, violence, and social marginalization of vulnerable racial and LGBTQ populations in New Orleans. Communities Against Hate (CAH) offered services to address trauma in youth stemming from negative language, hate crimes, and racism that they experience. The intervention included crisis assessments, intervention services, and professional trainings for people working with youth. CAH screened over 140 youth, 63 of which required a follow-up assessment to determine whether or not additional mental health services were needed or desired. Of those 63, 10 were referred to mental health professionals fro additional supports and services. CAH also created a new focus of In That Number, #WeThe504, which highlights stores of adults who have created inclusive, accepting, and compassion spaces through their actions in or around schools. #WeThe504 included stories from teachers, mental health professionals, students, and parents who embodied an inclusive New Orleans through action and advocacy. The stories were highlighted on all IWES social media platforms and on billboards throughout the New Orleans area.
Collected from 1200 youth between 2012-2015, some of the early statistics that the campaign shared are that: 20% of youth surveyed experienced PTSD in their lifetime; 30% of youth surveyed worried about not being loved; 40% of youth surveyed witnessed a shooting, stabbing or beating; and 54% of youth surveyed experienced the murder of someone close to them.
The Compassionate and Restorative Engagement (CARE) Project is a program of CHC that promotes self-care and well-being among leaders and healers whose work impacts vulnerable youth in New Orleans. CARE focuses on three main areas: 1) physical health and fitness, 2) emotional well-being and mindfulness, and 3) compassion satisfaction and action. The overall goal of CARE is to support leaders and healers on their self-care journey so that they may sustain their work in the community, and promote wellness and compassion within their organizations and among the populations they serve.
To get in contact with CHC, please email Denese Shervington.
Creating a Truer Self
The Creating a Truer Self (CATS) Program is a mental health and skills building workshop for girls ages 11-18. The primary purpose is to provide a safe space and opportunity to dive deeper into discussion and activities that promote healing from past trauma and improve the girls' ability to function positively in decision-making related to their physical and emotional health. CATS provides education and skill-building that encourages them to make responsible decisions through building self-esteem, recognizing healthy relationships, creating a positive self-image and learning the importance of nutrition and exercise.