The goal of the “I’m Here For You Now” project is to build natural resiliency in children ages 3-5 with the help of their parents and child care providers and teachers by creating a structured process of discussion and safety planning. The objective of this project is to support long term healthy social and emotional development of the children, to alleviate anxiety and possible retriggering and to provide children with a plan that will help them feel safe in any future disaster. The project fosters communication between caregivers and children enabling both to develop improved coping skills. The project will help children find ways to manage their anxiety in a developmentally appropriate way, which has been shown to reduce the risk of longer term social-emotional problems.Watch a Video About the Book Project and Nassau Thrives:
This collaborative project uses a book entitled “I Am Here For You Now” that was created in the wake of hurricane Katrina for the purpose of building resilience in children in the aftermath of a natural disaster. The book content discusses in a developmentally appropriate way who the people are at home or at school that will keep them safe if a storm or other disaster occurs. The age appropriate book is provided to each child. Photographs are taken of the child with their daycare providers/teachers at school and with family members at home. These pictures are inserted into the storyline and encourage an interactive dialogue between child care provider/family member and the child, fostering safety and providing opportunity to express feelings as well as offering ways the child can seek comfort from caring individuals. Each child will have a personal copy of the book to read whenever they need to feel reassured. Young children read books like this over and over again, thereby creating a way to help support coping and resilience long term.
This book project also allows teachers, caregivers, and parents to lead a discussion regarding how to plan for safety. It provides an opportunity to talk about fears and worries in children and helps clear up misconceptions that young children might have regarding a natural disaster like a hurricane. The Book Project acts as an engagement and outreach opportunity for the Child Care Council, Adelphi Institute for Parenting and the entire Project Team. Early Child Mental Health Specialists will train the child care professionals and family members individually and in groups in the effective use of the book, and the process for communicating with children at each developmental stage. The underlying theory and science supporting this work will be communicated as well.
A key part of this project is the personalization of the books for each child. This unique way of engaging children and their significant caregivers through personal photographs enhances the impact of this book in creating a calm and safe place for children who have had or are continuing to deal with a traumatic event.
Candida Cucharo, M.S.W., M.B.A.
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