Studies show that support such as ours is not only therapeutic to youth, but also those who directly serve and work with our most vulnerable populations - children and teens.
Studies further show that our brains are wired to foster working and playing together. Trauma in any form devastates our social engagement system and interferes with cooperation, nurturing, and the ability to function as a productive member of the community. Unhealthy behaviors, such as self-injury and drug abuse start off as attempts to cope with emotions that become unbearable because of a lack of adequate human contact and support.
Youth can learn to control and change behavior but only if they feel safe to experiment with new solutions. By engaging youth and teens in basic play, it helps them move out of the fight-or-flight state, reorganize their perception of danger and manage relationships.
Activities like recess play, belonging to a team, learning how to run, or having proper shoes or equipment like sports balls helps children engage in joyful physical activity, helps cultivate a sense of power, helps with self-esteem and helps process stress and anxiety. Getting “that energy out” helps children cultivate cooperation, self-regulation, perseverance, and concentration.
In the book, “The Body Keeps the Score”, Dr. Bessel Van Derk Kolk, MD reminds the reader to stop, and remember what it was like to play on a team or belong to a marching band or choir. Think about that coach or teacher who believed in your ability, pushed you to excel and taught you that you could be better than you thought possible. The children reached through the support of GROW receive this positive, meaningful contact with trusted adults who protech, educate, and serve them.
To have a healthy society, we must raise children who can safely play and learn. Children must have trusted adults who support them, who the child or teen feels a connection to and respects, and a person they do not want to let down.
Although we provide resources to trusted adults to connect with kids and keep them active, what we do and the impact we create is so much more. This is how we GROW healthy kids and GROW healthy communities.
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