Hi everyone - this is my (Jonathan’s) first blog post as BCJC’s VISTA, picking up where Grace has left off!
On October 21st and 22nd, BCJC volunteers joined us for back-to-back training sessions focused on Trauma Informed Care. The trainings were led by Kylen Velieux, who is the Transitional Services Coordinator with the DIVAS Program (Discussing Intimate Violence and Accessing Support), a project of the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.
The first evening was a screening of the documentary Healing Neen (CW: sexual abuse, physical violence, substance use), which follows the recovery of Tonier ‘Neen’ Cain from an early life of trauma and incarceration to her empowering and impactful adult life as an educator and speaker. Through her intense and remarkable story, the film showed the devastation of trauma and the remarkable hope for personal and social transformation through the thoughtful and determined application of Trauma Informed Care. This screening was followed by a short, facilitated discussion of the film.
The following evening, we were privileged to listen to Kylen’s presentation on Trauma Informed Care and how we can bring these frameworks to our roles with the Justice Center. Her presentation covered how trauma changes the brain, how we can better understand and act on the impacts of trauma, and how we can be more effective in advocating for and supporting folks in our community who have experienced trauma.
For me personally, one of my biggest takeaways from the training was around how we think about trauma and healing. One volunteer remarked on how we - as volunteers and restorative practitioners - are not healers, but that we hope to create and hold healing spaces. This perspective may be old news to some of you who have been doing this for longer than I have, but for me it was very profound - and I think I won’t truly understand all that this means in practice for some time.
If you are interested in learning more about trauma informed care, you can follow this link to the CDC’s website. If you’d like to connect with relevant organizations and resources in our community, you can follow this link to our Community Support page. And finally, if you’d like to read a book recommended by Kylen that centers and empowers the voices of incarcerated women in Vermont, you can find that here.
A huge thank you to Kylen and to all the volunteers who joined us! And now to you as well for reading my first blog post! Wishing health and peace to our community in these times.