Hunger and poverty are real felt needs and obstacles to learning.
So is TRAUMA—and we've been missing it.
Giving To Fill a Gap
by Allan Sherer, December 2023
Through a number of providential meetings recently, I have come to realize there is a gap in our educational system, one that is overlooked nationwide. It is the vacuum surrounding what we call "trauma."
As never before, the effects of trauma are universally recognized.
Gabor Mate, a medical doctor, says, "Trauma is an invisible force in our lives. It shapes the way we live, the way we love, and the way we make sense of the world."
Here at the onset of 2024, there is trauma-informed yoga, trauma-informed medicine, trauma-informed business development. Believe it or not, there is even trauma-informed dog food! Yes—it's a thing!
I am unable to move off of this question: “What solutions do we, the faith-based community, bring to a trauma-focused culture—especially as relates to the all-important phenomenon of childhood trauma?”
Kaiser Permanente and the Centers for Disease Control conducted a groundbreaking study in the mid-1990s documenting the exponential effects of the many categories of childhood trauma, such as childhood mistreatment, poverty, family dysfunction, etc.. These effects range from mental-health issues, learning disabilities, and adult health.
While the prevalence, causes, and consequences of trauma are more deeply understood than ever in history, we seem to be waging a losing war in our understanding of how to repair the effects of trauma.
While there have been significant steps forward in addressing felt-need obstacles to learning (such as providing meals to hungry school-children in underserved communities), the glaring reality of childhood trauma is egregiously overlooked in our educational system.
The various traumatic experiences that children suffer—as well as these traumas' lingering emotional, spiritual, and mental scars—no doubt impede their educational well-being.
Traumatic experiences often generate visible and tangibles negative outcomes that "start small," like lack of sleep or inability to concentrate. But these negative effects ripple out with compounding dire consequences—hampering children's capacity to process emotions, to process thought, to socialize, to overcome, to excel.
We can learn much from the ways Jesus interacted with his own traumatized culture. The Jewish people lived under profound pressures. As a subjugated people besieged by powerful economic, cultural, and political pressures, the Jewish people lived in a kind of desperation in which each day was a struggle to survive.
I am determined in the year to come to follow in the steps of the master healer, Jesus. I want to learn and reflect the way Jesus lived and loved as a non-anxious repairer of traumatized lives. I am excited to apply what I learn to the work we are doing in underserved communities.
Finding solutions for the deepest causes and wounds of trauma is not easy! We are convinced that we can actually play a unique and important role in tackling this challenge (rather than exacerbating the problem).
For all of us at New Way and the Judson School, 2024 will be a year in which we give everything we have to discover and launch kingdom solutions into the education space.
Will you join us? Your year-end donation of any amount will fuel the dream of Excellent and Equitable education across South Carolina and beyond.
If you or someone you know would like to direct some year-end giving into this vision, please click on and feel free to share this link:
Allan Sherer, CEO of New Way Global
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