BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Rep. Elijah Cummings hosted a forum Tuesday on preventing, treating and healing childhood trauma in Baltimore.

He was joined by physicians, school officials, and other city leaders to brainstorm and talk solutions for the future.

One of the themes included coming up with a way to educate doctors, teachers, law enforcement and anyone who works with children and families how to prevent and treat childhood trauma.

Cummings assembled a group of experts from Baltimore City Schools, the Baltimore City Health Department, Baltimore Police Department and the Mayor’s Office of Children and Family Services.

The group talked about how to create a universal approach for educating people about childhood trauma.

Annette March-Grier is the president and founder of Roberta’s House, a non-profit that works with children and families who have experienced the death of a loved one.

“What’s most important is that we start to provide the support for children at a very age and it’s the adults responsibility,” March-Grier said.

Most recently, Roberta’s House hosted a grief camp, a chance for kids to express their feelings about their own personal loss using art and by putting their feelings to paper in the form of letters and journals.

“It helped me to get out my feelings and learn new things about grieving it also helped me to know that I am not alone,” March-Grier said.

Once the camp is over and kids go back to school, they have to continue to be supported by mental and physical health professionals like nurses and social workers.

“Yes, we want to address what young people have gone through but we also want to be able to build their capacity to not only heal but have the tools to go one and lead full lives,” said Dr. Sonya Santelises, CEO of Baltimore Schools.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison talked about his crisis intervention team- officers who are trained to identify youth who may be acting out of trauma- that starts with the head of the household and is transferred to the youngest members of the family.

“Healing of our children but also healing of the caretakers of our children,”

Rep. Cummings let the group know that he is going to share these ideas and solutions with his fellow congressman and senators so that they can come up with even better federal policies to support the work that’s happening locally.

Rachel Menitoff

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