Open Society, Baltimore City to highlight some of North America’s most innovative approaches to trauma-responsive care

New York New York, UNITED STATES

Baltimore, March 01, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- On Thursday, March 3, policymakers, educators, and community leaders from around North America will join Baltimore’s virtual Healing City Summit to share innovative efforts to promote healing, trauma-responsive care, and violence prevention initiatives in their communities. The sessions will be livestreamed on the Healing City Baltimore Facebook page.

The Healing City Summit is a week-long celebration of the healing and community-building work of the Healing City Baltimore movement. On Thursday, the Open Society Foundations and Baltimore City Councilman Zeke Cohen will co-sponsor a “Baltimore and Beyond” day at the summit, bringing together representatives from Rochester, New York, Philadelphia, Seattle, New York City, Toronto, Durant, Mississippi, and Washington, D.C. to talk about innovative healing and trauma-responsive work happening in their cities. The summit is free and open to the public.

Among the panels:

Healing and Trauma Responsive Care in Education

  • Akil Hamm, Chief of Baltimore City Public Schools Police
  • Ellen Reddy, Executive Director, Nollie Jenkins Family Center, Inc. (Durant, Mississippi)
  • Deauntra Thompson Smith, Lead Relationships First Coach, Philadelphia United School District
  • Chris Scott, Senior Policy Advisor for Education and Youth Justice, Open Society Foundations (moderator)

Community-Based Peace Building

  • Erricka Bridgeford, Co-Founder, Baltimore Ceasefire
  • Erica Ford, Co-Founder, LIFE Camp (New York City)
  • Greg Jackson, Executive Director, Community Justice Action Fund (Washington, D.C./National)
  • Shantay Jackson, Director, Baltimore Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement (moderator)

Local Government-Led Healing & Restorative Efforts

  • Donna Bruce, Trauma-Informed Care Task Force in Baltimore
  • Mary Lupien, Council Vice President in Rochester, New York
  • Scott Mckean, Manager of Community Development for the City of Toronto
  • Tammy Morales, Councilmember in Seattle
  • Elizabeth Guernsey, Senior Program Officer, Open Society Foundations (moderator)

The Open Society Foundations have been an ongoing supporter of Healing City Baltimore, which aims to unearth and reverse the causes of trauma in the city by helping government proactively support the health of children and families, confront injustice, and prevent violence. The effort has included passage of the Elijah Cummings Healing City Act, which mandates implementation of trauma-responsive care throughout Baltimore City government. The effort expanded throughout the state with passage of the Healing Maryland’s Trauma Act in 2021.

Healing City Act trainings began in 2021 with the 500 employees of Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Free Library system. Donna Bruce, a peer navigator at the Pennsylvania Avenue library branch, will be part of the panel on “Local Government-Led Healing & Restorative Efforts.” The next Baltimore City department to be trained will be Recreation and Parks.

“The trauma that we see in our schools, our neighborhoods, and our homes is unparalleled,” says Cohen, a former teacher in Baltimore City Public Schools. “We need a city government that operates with empathy, acknowledges the harm that so many residents experience, and works every day to heal the people we serve. That’s why we’re so proud to be the first city in the country to legislate trauma-informed care. We want Baltimore to be a model healing city to help cities everywhere learn how they can help their residents heal.”

Danielle Torain, the director of Open Society’s Baltimore-based office, will open Thursday’s convening, and Tom Perriello, Executive Director of Open Society-U.S. and a former Virginia Congressman, will introduce “Local Government-Led Healing & Restorative Efforts” panel. Torain recently wrote an op-ed for the Baltimore Sun examining the impact of negative, often racist perceptions about Baltimore.

“Racist, inaccurate narratives about Baltimore and other Black-majority cities dominate the national discourse and do great harm to the those working to bring progressive change,” she says. “The Healing City Summit offers a different, more accurate narrative: Baltimore residents, educators, and public officials demonstrating new, innovative ways to integrate healing and trauma-responsiveness into all aspects of civic life.”


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