Initially, I was overwhelmed with the psychology team’s task of finding ways to adequately respond to trauma in children at Genesis Home. Having previously spent nine weeks in India working with orphans and vulnerable children, I know how severe and varied the responses to trauma can be. There is no “quick fix” to trauma, and I did not know where to focus my efforts to be of greatest assistance to Genesis Home and their children. However, after spending a few hours with the children through Genesis Home’s “study buddy” program, I decided to focus my individual project on self-concept. Self-concept is essentially the beliefs one holds about oneself. I realize that initially this does not seem directly related to responding to trauma, but let me explain. An individual with high self-concept is less likely to have a negative reaction to traumatic events, and building one’s self-concept after traumatic events occur are found to help people recover. Thus, building self-concept can be used as a protective factor and a form of treatment for negative side effects of trauma.
One of the most well-studied ways of improving self-concept in school-aged children is through out of school academic engagement, such as after-school and summer literacy programs. These programs build self-concept by encouraging students to improve skills and to believe that they can succeed in school and beyond. Genesis Home already has an after-school program, where students can come and get help on their homework or simply read a book. However, they do not currently have a summer literacy program. During the summer months, there is no encouragement for the children in Genesis Home to engage in academic enriching activities. This is troublesome, because without these types of activities children are likely to lose essential skills that will allow them to succeed during the next school year. My focus for the upcoming semester will be to explore the feasibility of a summer literacy program at Genesis Home, and hopefully help to develop a plan for one to begin in the summer of 2016.