In October 2019, our community partner, the North Bergen School District, offered the Rainbow Days Curriculum-Based Support Group program to its first student cohort at North Bergen High School. Together with the North Bergen Director of Student Services, Theresa Rabelo, and the guidance counselors, we are working on making strong connections with students, their families, and the community.
Rainbow Days and ACES
Rainbow Days targets youth ages 4-17, whose adverse childhood experiences, trauma, and familial challenges place them at elevated risk for future behavioral problems including substance abuse, delinquency, and violence. Click here to learn more. Since the preliminary program implementation, 53 North Bergen students across multiple schools have participated and completed the course. Thus far, counselors’ and students’ reactions to the program have been exceedingly positive.
“(Rainbow Days) Youth Connections was a great opportunity to get to know students in a more personal setting. The program helped create a safe and fun environment where students learned more about each other and themselves. Some of the topics discussed were: making healthy choices, goal setting, peer pressure, and anger management. Students learned how to be good listeners and developed new friendships,” said North Bergen High School Counselor Stacey Perrin. “By the last session, the group had developed a great rapport, understanding and respect for each other. As a Counselor, I enjoyed discussing topics that were unique, relevant and thought-provoking. It was wonderful to watch the group grow. The program exceeded my expectations and we were all sad for our experience to come to an end,” Perrin said.
Social Change, Evolution, and Progress
North Bergen’s guidance counselors have noted increased anxiety and instability among families born outside of the United States, due in part to the anti-immigrant sentiment dominating the political landscape. By addressing these concerns in children and teenagers, the North Bergen School District is supporting and enhancing social and emotional health by increasing community involvement with a population that may otherwise not have access to services. “Our goal is to help as many students as possible,” said North Bergen Municipal Alliance Coordinator, Nick Biamonte. He believes in the program’s power to inspire change in the lives of students affected by early trauma.
Our Alliance partners have formally implemented the Handle with Care program, which indicates when a student in school may be reeling from a traumatic incident off school grounds and needs to be “handled with care.” Our coalition has had enormous success as the North Bergen Police Department and the North Bergen School District work collaboratively on this referral system. It has proven to be effective in recruiting students to participate in the Rainbow Days program and has been key to the success of our overall mission.
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