A child's drawing of the wildfire they survived.

How Do Children Impacted By Wildfires Recover? A Resilient Community’s Trauma-Informed Story Of Healing

Editor’s Note: Do you have a story of a local community creating programs to help their members recover from climate change disasters? Send us your story of a resilient community to editor@kindredmedia.org.

We’re honored to feature Thrive, a healing initiative of the North Valley Community Foundation (NVCF), a collaboration of people, organizations and agencies in Butte County, California, whose mission is to address the impact of trauma across generations. In the wake of the devastating Camp Fire in 2018, Thrive developed the first of its kind mental health and child well-being focusedcurriculum to support the community’s vulnerable youth.

Many Butte County children face extreme stress and trauma from wildfires. For many, that includes the loss of their homes, schools and other safety and support systems. The closure of schools in the COVID-19 added to the stressors. Left unaddressed, these ongoing mental, physical and financial challenges can have a lifelong impact on a child’s development, quality of life and ability to succeed. 

“Our community has experienced trauma upon trauma during the last few years,” said Alexa Benson-Valavanis, NVCF’s president and CEO. “This video series gives our frontline heroes working with youth additional tools they need to help transform trauma into growth and resilience.” 

Thrive’s new video series is designed to provide tools for adults to help youths who are struggling with stress and trauma. The Thrive Children’s Resilience Initiative is a free online for parents, educators and other youth-serving professionals.  (Enjoy the first video, and its stories of the wildfires and their effects on children in their community, below.)

The videos and the accompanying Discussion Guide, both available at www.nvcf.org/thrivecri, are designed to help adults understand the impact of trauma on vulnerable children, how it affects them and what adults can do to help. Straightforward explanations of the science behind toxic stress and childhood trauma help frame practical self-care and child well-being tools.

As our country, and our world, is coping with a pandemic and ever more frequent natural disasters, our need to care for the emotional well-being of ourselves and others has become a necessary priority. Stress,toxic stress and trauma are real and affect us all. Additionally, many communities struggling to manage the multiple challenges associated with natural disasters and COVID-19, are also facing issues of domestic violence, abuse, neglect and mental health challenges that have resulted in populations with high levels of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). Numerous studies have shown that the higher the ACEs scores, the greater the negative impact there will be on the child’s mental health, physical health, ability to connect to education, and prospects for life-success.

Thrive is an initiative led by NVCF and focused on emotional healing for children, families and individuals after the Camp Fire and other local crises. Thrive brings together a collaboration of people, organizations and agencies committed to engaging in work surrounding the impact of childhood trauma across all generations.

For more information about the Children’s Resilience Initiative or any of the other Thrive healing initiatives, please visit www.nvcf.org/thrive or contact them at thrive@nvcf.org.


See Kindred’s posts on Adverse Childhood Experiences

See Kindred’s Trauma-informed Resources

See Kindred’s posts on Climate Change and Consciousness

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