In the Fall of 2019, Partners in Prevention (PIP) had the opportunity to attend the New Jersey Health Initiatives (NJHI) Upstream Action Acceleration meeting in Perth Amboy, NJ. This convening allowed us to explore in great detail the short and long-term goals for our Community-Based Support Group (CBSG) program, Rainbow Days. By working and learning alongside other NJHI-funded coalitions, we are building strong connections throughout the state and developing skills to better support the communities, families, and youth we aim to reach.
Rainbow Days Launch
The first cohort of our CBSG, Rainbow Days commenced in October 2019. North Bergen High School Director of Student Personnel Services, Theresa Rabelo, and North Bergen Municipal Alliance Coordinator, Nick Biamonte, leveraged their professional and civic influence to establish this program in the North Bergen local schools due to an increased need for resources addressing early childhood trauma, also known as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). To maintain program fidelity, our first cohort had a select, targeted participation of seven students ranging from 14-17 years old. Early reactions to the program have been extremely positive and the North Bergen School Board has requested Rainbow Days in all seven of its public schools, with CBSG-trained student assistance coordinators facilitating the sessions. Partners in Prevention-affiliated educators will provide additional support and guidance. The students participating in the group have shown an eagerness to acquire new skills aimed at managing stress, improving their family relationships, and dealing with trauma and everyday anxiety. If students can learn to be resilient and adapt to emotional challenges through this program, we can reduce the effect of severe mental and physical distress later in life.
Progress in Systems Change
A new initiative approach adopted by the North Bergen community is Handle with Care. This program confidentially identifies a student in school who may need to be “handled with care” because they are reeling from a traumatic incident that happened off school grounds, in which the police may have been involved. With this notice to the school, the staff can discreetly be attentive to the child and offer support if necessary. Identified students in need of additional assistance will be offered the Rainbow Days program as a means of tackling any presenting concerns. Traditionally, students who experienced difficulties at home and “acted out” or behaved poorly in school received a suspension that could increase future setbacks such as poor grades and absences. This program aims to raise consciousness and improve communication between school personnel and the law enforcement community to provide proper support and resources for youth suffering from trauma. Partner with us and learn more about our work.
Meet another NJ community using the Handle with Care approach and working to reduce the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences.