Program Name: School-Based Grief & Emotional Wellness Program
Award Amount: $124044.5
Project Description: We present the Grief & Emotional Wellness Program that will provide youth-centered grief and loss support and mental health education to youth and their school community. The program addresses grief and traumatic loss experienced by youth in four Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS) in high-risk and impoverished communities: Patterson High School, Harford Heights Elementary School, Cecil Elementary School and Henderson-Hopkins Elementary School.
The goal of the program is two-fold: to provide trauma-informed support and resources for healthy coping and to enhance the ability of schools to identify and support youth contending with multiple deaths and traumatic losses. This program is embedded in schools because they are a natural, living, and learning environment for youth. Schools are often the place where maladaptive coping and mental health issues manifest (e.g., inconsistent attendance, poor academic performance, bullying, and isolation). Schools provide structure and opportunities for youth to practice behaviors that promote healing and emotional wellness. Through this program, youth will have a safe and welcoming environment that promotes preventative mental health now and for their future.
The Grief & Emotional Wellness Program will include Growing Thru Loss, a 10-week peer support group; Grief and Loss Workshops to school and community members; and, Mental Health First Aid training to teachers. In addition to strengthening the school community, this program also fosters youth empowerment and leadership. The program incorporates youth ambassadors – students who have received developmentally appropriate grief training and act as liaisons between their bereaved peers and adult providers. Youth ambassadors will be active change agents, first in their schools and then, in their neighborhoods.