5 Steps To Trauma-Sensitive Programming

You may have recently heard some of the breaking research on the deep effects of PTSD among black women in Chicago. Here are some of the ways that Girls in the Game is working to ensure our programs are trauma-informed for our participants.

About two weeks ago I attended a training hosted by Up2Us Sports focused on Trauma-Sensitive Sports Practice. The training provided insight into the story of trauma and its effects on youth. The Up2Us facilitators did a great job at explaining how Trauma Sensitive Sports Practices can support youth and coaches in creating an environment that is conducive to building positive and healthy life skills and relationships.

The training was so informative that it caused me to review our own program practices to ensure we are properly responding to the needs of girls and coaches. Gladly, after only a few seconds, I came to the conclusion that Girls in the Game is right on target. Upon reflection I realized that our program structure has trauma sensitive practices already built in and that the Trauma Informed Theory guides our implementation practices. In fact, this theory is discussed thoroughly with our coaches during our two-day Best Practice training because we realize the impact of trauma and significance of integrating this knowledge into our policies and procedures.

To deepen our understanding of trauma sensitive practices, during the Up2Us training we were given the following as a model for trauma sensitive programming:

  1. Transition — The time between when youth first arrive in the space to when coaches decide to start the official warm up activities
  2. Warm-up — The time between formal start of practice to when coaches begin structured activities.
  3. Play — The time period that encompasses drills, simulated game play and other structured activities facilitated by coaches
  4. Cool Down — The time between end of structured activities to the formal end of practice
  5. Transition –The time between the cool down to when players exit space

Again, while listening to the facilitators I began to get excited because I realized our program structure is in alignment with their recommendations. We teach our coaches the importance of each component above and how they help create an environment conducive to learning for our girls.

I had an awesome opportunity to observe programming at one of our sites and was able to see our coaches implementing this model:

  1. They began with a transition game of tag, which gets the girls moving and allows them to release bottled energy from the school day
  2. The coaches stretched with the girls to warm-up before beginning the structured activities
  3. The coaches started the main activity, soccer. During this time, the girls reviewed the skills they learned from the previous session and the coaches also taught new skills
  4. After play, the coaches initiated a cool down, which consisted of multiple girls leading the group through various stretching routines
  5. Finally, the girls reviewed all the topics and skills they learned during the session, and the coaches presented Athlete of the Day to one of the girls who exhibited great leadership and listening skills during the session

Overall, I’m glad I attended the training; it was a reminder of how Girls in the Game continues to exceed industry standards while maintaining a focus on the needs of the girls we serve. As we continue to grow in the field of sports-based youth development, and “aim for quality” in all areas of programming, we do so with an ongoing awareness of the needs of girls.

This post was written by Ericka Dawson, the After School Manager at Girls in the Game. It was originally published in April 2017.

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