emPOWER NOLA

The Problem

Research sited by a task force for the City of New Orleans surveyed 5,000 youth between 2012 and 2018.  They found a startling prevalence of youth living through profoundly traumatic events. This reality calls for the development of interventions that will heal and for partnerships that promote trauma-informed spaces.

The existing institutions to treat and support children living with trauma are fragmented. 


Strongly cohesive culture bearers that have decades of history in the various communities of Orleans Parish (Metro New Orleans) serve a strong healing purpose for people historically disenfranchised from traditional mental health and social supports.  These are Mardi Gras Indian Tribes, Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs and Second Line groups. 

  

It has been historically challenging to link high quality mental health care with the affected community in New Orleans. We believe that culture bearers and school health providers, which are pillars of support for children in our community, can work together to get our kids the formal help that they need.

Our Model

We are bridging the divide between culture bearers and school health providers by partnering and training them about childhood trauma.

This will empower these adults to access resources that can help kids and will create community members who can identify kids in need.

In doing so, we seek to address the “wicked problem” through three aims:

  • We will unify fragmented systems of support.
  • We will create trauma informed spaces in New Orleans social networks.
  • We will connect formal pediatric mental health structures with naturally occurring informal ones (schools and culture bearers).


Culture Bearers

Mardi Gras Indians & Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs have decades of history in New Orleans.


These groups have a strong healing purpose for our communities and our children because they promote joy, inclusion, and purpose.


Children suffering from trauma find support and strength from these culture bearers.


School-Based Health Providers

Most kids in New Orleans get their mental health needs met by counselors at charter schools.


Often, kids at school are mislabeled as “bad” because of behaviors related to trauma.


When our school counselors can recognize that our kids are “sad, not bad,” (an expression coined by the Institute for Women and Ethnic Studies) they can get them the culturally competent help that they need.