Helping children cope with trauma after Hurricane Michael

Published: Dec. 26, 2018 at 4:53 PM CST
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The Early Learning Coalition of Northwest Florida serves child care programs in Jackson, Washington, Calhoun, Holmes, Bay, Gulf, and Franklin counties.

Following Hurricane Michael, officials with the organization said one thing became very clear.

"We noticed that so many of our children and teachers were exhibiting signs of toxic stress or trauma and we said oh my gosh, we've got to do something," Executive Director Suzan Gage said.

That's when they developed HaRP, or the Hope and Recovery Project.

"We bring this big kit of supplies and these are supplies that teachers use commonly in a child care environment, an early learning environment," Gage said. "There's lots of what we call fluid play, therapeutic type toys."

Kits have been delivered to more than 20 local child care centers.

"We've had very, very good feedback from the teachers who had us come into their classrooms, from the childcare center directors and owners who had us come out to their programs," Gage said.

More money is needed, but officials said they hope to continue the Hope and Recovery Project for the next six to nine months.