Event to inform caregivers of traumatized youth

By SCOTT MIMS / Staff Writer

An upcoming mini-conference in Alabaster seeks to inform people who interact with traumatized children and teens.

“Raising Resilient Children—It Takes a Community” will be held Friday and Saturday, Jan. 24 and 25, at Restore Alabaster, 128 Market Center Drive. The event is hosted by the Shelby County Foster Parent Association and presented by the Shelby County Children’s Policy Council’s Early Childhood and Education Committee.

Anyone from parents, teachers, coaches, mentors, caregivers to relatives of youth may benefit from the free conference.

“This is amazing information for any parent but critical for any type of caregiver that is interacting with children and teens from hard places,” said Amanda Manzanilla with the Shelby County Foster Parent Association. “It’s a lot of really helpful information to help make them more equipped.”

Friday’s portion of the event kicks off at 7 p.m. with a “Behaviors 101” session led by Sonia Martin, LICSW, PIP. Saturday’s workshops begin at 8 a.m. with “Intro to TBRI—Trauma Informed Classroom” led by Alicia Witt, followed by “Conscious Discipline” led by Joy Winchester. The latter two workshops target teachers, educators and professionals working with youth.

A separate workshop for relatives focusing on kinship and guardianship is also scheduled for Saturday.

Manzanilla indicated the goal of the conference is to equip the community as a whole to better serve children who have experienced family separation, medical trauma, abuse, neglect or any traumatic event.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to get this trauma and sensory-based knowledge out there in the community,” she said. “A lot of times we see at home our kids can succeed, but when we’re out in the community when they’re at school, daycare, church or even at extracurricular activities, we see those teachers and caregivers are not equipped with the trauma and sensory-based knowledge of why our kids do the things they do that looks so different from their peers.”

Martin, who will lead the “Behaviors 101” session, has seven teenage boys, three of whom were adopted internationally. She is also a foster parent for Montgomery County DHR.

“The training itself helps empower and equip foster and adoptive parents with strategies to mitigate some typical trauma behaviors,” Martin said. “The conference as a whole encourages them to plug in as a whole and to walk alongside and be in community with other parents who are experiencing the same hardships and joys.”

Myra Shaw, co-chair of the Early Childhood and Education Committee and director of programs at Childcare Resources, invited anyone who works with children to attend.

“The training is free and it is open to the community,” Shaw said. “As we know, it takes community support to help children and families thrive. We want children to be lifelong learners.”

Registration for the event is on Eventbrite; also look for the event on Facebook. No childcare is available onsite.