Keeping the Conversation Moving
YWCA Tri-County Area’s Advocacy Team was pleased to be a part of Healthy Bodies Healthy Minds Institute (HBHMI) this past week. HBHMI is an annual conference designed to nurture the interdisciplinary roles of educators, administrators, and researchers in fostering school environments that promote wellness as a core component of school culture, student achievement, and student, staff, and community well-being. This year’s theme for the event is “Cultivating Safe and supportive Learning Environments at Home and at School.”
Furthermore, HBHMI has also established multiple themes as focus areas for the day long virtual conference. Hosted by Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation, the goal of the conference was to host conversations, professional development, and foster communication around:
- Diversity and equity
- Applications of Kinesthetic Learning at Home and at School
- Lifelong Activities for Fitness and Well-Being
- Health and Safety Precautions—Advice from School Nurses and School Resource Officers
- Social and Emotional Learning, Coping with Trauma, Remote Learning
- Staff Wellness—Personal Safety and Self Care
- Student Voice in Wellness Programming—Return to School
- Family Engagement/Nutrition at Home and at School
- Wellness Action Team Planning
YW3CA’s Advocacy Team was proud to kick start the virtual conference. Stacey Woodland, YW3CA’s CEO, begin with a short keynote address, outlined below:
In 1970 – five days prior to the 25th YWCA National Convention in Houston Texas…500 Black women met together to talk about their role and function in and responsibilities to the YWCA. The action they discussed was that the imperative relating to racism be lifted out from other concerns and that it become the One Imperative. They justified this on the basis that the other concerns were so interrelated with racism that it as an issue was all-inclusive and would of necessity touch on all other concerns and we should work to eliminate it “wherever it exists and by any means necessary.”
The proposal to eliminate racism was supported. The reservations expressed had to do with the rest of the phrasing – “wherever it exists” and especially “by any means necessary” were rhetorical phrases of the Black revolution. Those words, somehow, conjured images of riots in the streets or at the least, a kind of directness that America was unaccustomed to hearing from the mostly middle-class ladies. The proponents of that phrasing insisted that it should not be diluted to mean by any means possible or by any means inoffensive or by any means convenient or by any means nice. And so, the vote was taken and the “One Imperative – to thrust our collective power toward the elimination of racism wherever it exists and by any means necessary” became part of YW’s mission.
YWs mission as it is stated today is to eliminate racism, empower women and promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.
Two years ago, YWCA Tri-County Area reignited its Racial Justice work, developing an Implicit Bias training for educators, with the goal of creating more equity in our educational systems. Shout-out to Pottstown High School who made the space for this important work. However, the murder of George Floyd showed us that connecting with school districts isn’t enough. The team worked diligently to develop the virtual series titled, Racism, Trauma and What’s Next? What you are about to see is a panel discussion of racial justice warriors not only in the fight against racism, but in the trenches to bring about healing from the trauma that racism causes. Racism Harms Everyone! I wish I could say, I hope you enjoy the session, but racism and trauma are not enjoyable topics, so what I will say is I hope this session helps you understand the impact of racism and ways to combat the trauma.
Following Woodland’s opening statement, the Advocacy Team presented the second webinar of the 6-part Advocacy Summer Series: Racism, Trauma & What’s Next? as part of the Healthy Body Healthy Minds virtual conference.
The second webinar, titled “Trauma Responsive Practices” included panelists:
- Tiaisha ‘Ti’ Dandy – Program Analyst for the City of Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services
- Beth Herdmann, LSW, Esq. – Child Advocate Attorney for the Defender Association of Philadelphia in their Child Advocacy Unit
- Karen McDougal, PhD, MBA, CPA – Assistant Professor at the University of Sciences, in Philadelphia, and serves as the Director of Undergraduate Programs for the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Business program, and self-employed Certified Public Accountant
- Vanessa Walker – Middle School Social Worker, Clinical Licensed Counselor for Individuals and Families
- Brandon Brown – Trauma Specialist at Temple University’s Lewis Katz School of Medicine’s Center for Urban Bioethics, and Certified Trauma Practitioner & Instructor at the Institute for Family Professionals
- Ohenewaa D. White-Ra – Full-time Faculty Member and BSW Program Director in the Department of Allied Health and Human Services at Alvernia University
- LaTanya White – Director of Student Services at Pottstown School District and an Independent Educational Consultant for KenKayd Consulting
YW3CA’s Advocacy team hosted this online forum to discuss racial justice trauma as it relates to the inequalities seen within our communities of color. This forum is a direct response to the recent disparities individuals have experienced during our COVID-19 pandemic and racial (in)justices we observed in light of the deaths of George Floyd, Brianna Taylor, Rashard Brooks, and Ahmaud Arbery. We strived to inspire a dialogue that supports education, community healing and share tools that promote racial justice, diversity and inclusion and community safety for all.
We asked our panel to respond to several questions pertaining to one’s mental health giving consideration to the two public health crisis the country is facing, with a goal of transitioning to a new normal while ensuring a practice of inclusion, equality, and diversity.
To view this webinar, please visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWz1De0nuUw
To learn more about our Advocacy program, please visit: https://www.ywcatricountyarea.org/get-involved/yw3ca-advocacy-membership/.