We have heard that the Body Keeps the Score. No matter our age, when we experience trauma, our nervous system can become overwhelmed, resulting in challenging behavior. This can start a chain of events for school age children that, when met with misunderstanding by adults, can make a bad situation worse. District Attorney Early’s office is working to expand our understanding of what is happening beneath behavior, and how we can utilize “Handle With Care” to support children in need.
Susanne Bahnan is a Community and School Outreach Coordinator in Worcester County’s District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr.’s Office. In this role she works to disseminate trauma-informed awareness and knowledge through the scientific lens of the human nervous system. Susanne has a Master of Science in Neuroscience from the University of Hartford, and a Master of Arts in Psychology in Education through Teachers College, Columbia University. In addition to her work in the DA’s Office, Susanne is certified as a Trauma Coach, HeartMath Coach, Embodied Meditation Coach, and Life Coach, and has worked in fields including stress and wellness research, social emotional learning, and clinical Neurofeedback.
The Handle With Care Initiative is a national strategy started in West Virginia. Locally, it is coordinated by the DA’s office and has a North County site at Heywood Hospital. We will also be hearing from the Handle With Care North Central / North Quabbin Leadership: Selena Johnson, Heywood Community Investment Director, Lt John Czasnowski, Gardner Police Dept & HWC Program Manager, Renee Eldredge, Asst. Program Manager and Community Healthworker.
Gardner Public Schools & Gardner Police Department initiated the formalization of HWC practices in 2019 in partnership with Heywood’s receipt of the Trauma Informed Care for Young Children grant. Since then, the collaborative has expanded to include 5 other districts & 9 other police departments across the region. Going forward, we will have a systemic HWC program across all school districts and law enforcement partners creating a safety net for traumatized youth.
If you are interested in scheduling a trauma training for your agency and/or learning more about implementing Handle With Care in your area, please reach out to Susanne directly at Susanne.bahnan [at] mass.gov.