Editorials

New effort puts needed focus on trauma

Joe Reardon (right) recently replaced Jim Heeter (left) as president and CEO of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. Reardon was among the speakers Tuesday at the launch of an initiative called Resilient KC.
Joe Reardon (right) recently replaced Jim Heeter (left) as president and CEO of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. Reardon was among the speakers Tuesday at the launch of an initiative called Resilient KC. jtoyoshiba@kcstar.com

Resilient KC is more than a catchy new phrase.

It is a communitywide effort to identify the trauma that children and adults face and the mental and physical problems that trauma causes and address the concerns with better intervention.

Trauma includes abuse, neglect, domestic violence, gun violence, witnessing violence, sexual violence, divorce and having a parent incarcerated.

Trauma is cumulative and is particularly troubling for children. Teachers see it in students’ behavioral problems and their inability to learn in school. Research shows that adults who have four or more “adverse childhood experiences” are more likely to smoke, abuse alcohol, be obese, suffer depression and attempt suicide.

Resilient KC was introduced Tuesday to an audience at the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce in Union Station.

The goal is to raise awareness about trauma, its effects and how to help people bounce back from it. Jasmin Williams, Resilient KC project coordinator, explained that surveys will be done and stories collected to better understand the trauma people face and how they’ve overcome it.

The initiative is a joint effort of Healthy KC and Trauma Matters KC. Healthy KC is a partnership of the Kansas City chamber, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City and more than 100 other organizations. Trauma Matters KC is a coalition of more than 30 area social service agencies, behavioral health centers and other groups to raise awareness about trauma.

The collaboration helped this area get selected to receive foundation grants of $375,000 to fund Resilient KC. The chamber’s involvement fits its initiatives through Healthy KC to promote better nutrition, more physical activity, better work-life balance and tobacco cessation through Tobacco 21|KC.

Addressing trauma instead of ignoring the problem and providing effective intervention can help young people learn better in school. That will produce a healthier workforce for businesses in the future.

“We’re all affected by serious mental illness, by adversity,” said Joe Reardon, the chamber’s president and CEO.

Mayor Mark Holland of Wyandotte County’s Unified Government told the audience: “We have the opportunity to bring this out of the darkness. We can as a community help people be more resilient.”

Let’s hope Resilient KC also can lead to a reduction in violence and other trauma that has long troubled this metropolitan area.

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