September 26, 2022 by Megan Schwarze
It was such a privilege to participate in the Greenville Community Read (GCR) hosted by PEP. The book What Happened to You? is so relevant to what we are seeing in schools throughout our district. While the book provides factual information, research, and data, it does so through storytelling and the voice of Oprah Winfrey who has experienced trauma firsthand. The most meaningful parts of the GCR were the small group discussions and the capstone panel of community leaders. Reading through the book I was able to reflect on my life, the lives of my own children, and the lives of the children I work with. However, participating in those small group discussions and the capstone panel allowed me to listen and really feel the effects of trauma on children and the people who work with them. The openness, honesty, and vulnerability that was shared throughout the GCR really built a sense of community, that allowed us to deepen our understanding and grow in our knowledge of trauma. There was a strong desire amongst participants to soak up all the knowledge that we could from our sessions and then take that knowledge and passion back into our daily work. The more we are able to learn about all the different topics that impact the children and adults we work with, the better we are able to provide, adjust, and support others. Our knowledge of these topics deepens the work we are able to do with children, broadens our understanding of the adults we work with, and strengthens the connections we build with our students and families.
At the end of the GCR I was left with a sense of hope: hope for a future in which more people are trauma-informed and trauma-sensitive, hope that through our knowledge we can make a difference in the lives of these children and families, and most importantly hope for the survivors of trauma that they can overcome what happened to them. The shift from “What’s wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?” has the power to change lives!
I am so grateful for these GCRs as they have provided me with opportunities to grow as a psychologist, a mother, a friend, and as a person. Big shout out to PEP and the amazing facilitators for building this strong network between teachers and the community and bringing topics that are critical and relevant to the forefront through meaningful experiences and opportunities.
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