Trauma is a distressing life event that can go beyond physical harm, and it can happen in anyone, in any community. Here in the city of Rockford, community leaders gathered Thursday to become more aware of how to deal with and approach trauma. Trauma can be experienced in many ways including family violence, crime exposure, substance abuse, racism, unemployment, and much more.
City leaders say this push to create a more trauma informed community is important to act on now.
"If we don't build these skills now, our coping and our ability to bounce back and be resilient is questionable," Dr. Sandra Martell with the Winnebago County Health Department said.
Dr. Martell explains the importance of intervening with trauma at younger ages. She says that being able to catch it early, will allow a greater outcome in that child's future. Winnebago County Chairman, Frank Haney was in attendance at the discussion, and believes having leaders from many different sectors such as, Education, Social Services, Court Systems, Medical Field, and many more in attendance is important to the community-wide understanding of trauma.
"Progress is rarely made in isolation, and one thing I'm really excited about is you see a group of leaders who come from different industries who are working together around a really tough problem," Haney said.
It's a problem, that relates to the recent crime and violence that has taken place in the Rockford area.
"Nearly all of our murders have been domestic related," Rockford Mayor, Tom McNamara said.
The outcomes of those violent situations, are what can cause trauma in the community and the discussion brought up on Thursday, highlighted the importance of getting involved immediately after a traumatic situation.
"Communities who don't deal with trauma well, it plays out and it doesn't go away. In fact, it continues and a lot of times gets worse and manifests in other negative ways," Haney said.
Dr. Martell says if action isn't taken, those children can become greatly affected and hold onto the trauma they have experienced.
"It starts with those early experiences, and really impacts the social, cognitive, and emotional functioning of children," Martell said.
It's a push that Mayor McNamara says he will be rallying behind, and he believes it will make a substantial impact in the future as well.
"I think it will make us stronger, more resilient community that can provide more hope and stability to all of our citizens," McNamara said.
As for now. city leaders say these are just the beginning stages, and talks of becoming more aware and education on the topic of trauma as a whole. They say that area hospitals have already begun implementing trauma aware care for their patients, and are in the beginning stages of bringing more awareness to trauma in our community.