Food Security for Trauma Healing: Helping At-Risk Youth Thrive

The content originally appeared on: The Barnacle News

Reach Within – a Grenadian charity that supports at-risk children- has broken ground on the Food Security for Trauma Healing Project, building the capacity of wards of the state in agriculture while also meeting their personal nutritional needs and the nutritional needs of the wider community.

The initiative, valued at some US $11,000 is funded by the Sandals Foundation and will see to the enhancement and transformation of designated outdoor spaces at Father Mallaghan’s Home for Boys and Smiles Centre for Girls into thriving food gardens through the implementation of soil regeneration techniques, the creation of planters using recycled materials and the installation of water storage units to capture rainwater.

Much needed food from the gardens and other garden seed supplies will be shared with the Belair Home for Children and Adolescent Girls, Dorothy Hopkin Home for the Disabled and the Queen Elizabeth Home for Children. At-risk children, youth and adults with special needs will have access to nutritional produce and learn agricultural job/life skills while their professional caregivers will also receive quarterly training on regenerative agriculture practices.

Speaking to its strategic mission to strengthen the Caribbean’s food security efforts, Executive Director at the Sandals Foundation, Heidi Clarke says “The Trauma Healing Project uniquely empowers a select group that is often overlooked within society. There are no boundaries to skills training, and no limit to what can be accomplished when we facilitate an equitable space for all members of our community to eat what they grow, grow what they eat, and ultimately thrive.”

Reach Within collaborates with the Child Protection Authority to provide trauma healing programs for children, youth and adults with special needs who have been removed from their biological family homes due to abuse or neglect, and who are currently residing in one of the five residential care homes on the island or who have recently aged out.

Managing Director of the Child Protection Authority, Ms. Beverley-Ann Poyotte, expressed delight at the initiative noting, “Caring for young persons must take a holistic approach, and including such an activity into their lives, has far reaching benefits. Not only will their present situations be enhanced but the skills learnt will be of benefit to them in the future.”

For Donnet Williams, Reach Within Manager and Counsellor, “If young people age out of care homes with food security and skills, they will not only have a greater ability to heal but as adults, they will have the skills to create food gardens within their own communities.”

The project will also support a food pantry located in Reach Within’s Drop-in Centre on Lucas Street in St. George. The Drop-in Centre serves as a community safety net for youth who have aged out of the child welfare system (often with little or no biological family support), and who are striving to make it as independent members of their community. The Reach Within Drop-In Centre provides housing advocacy, job/life skills training and a food pantry for emergency necessities and basic needs.

To learn more about Sandals Foundation, Reach Within and Child Protection Authority, please click the links.