|Dear YMCA Families and Staff, |
I am saddened to write to you today regarding another horrific act of violence in one of our nation’s schools. Unfortunately, we have witnessed too often tragic and incomprehensible events that profoundly impact our community and beyond. I am confident that I speak for all who read this letter and that we extend our collective thoughts and prayers to the victims, their families, and the entire community of Uvalde, Texas.
Events such as these have an impact that reverberates far beyond the boundaries of any single community. They affect us all in different ways, ways which are often hard to define or describe. This is typical but should not be described as “normal” because events such as this should never be normalized.
I want to be very clear that ensuring the safety and security of our students, staff, and visitors to the YMCA of Central & Northern Westchester is our most fundamental responsibility. It is something that we proactively plan for and consider daily. Our safety plans, procedures, and infrastructure are regularly reviewed and refined through the work of our OCFS Licensor and Leadership Teams. Our team is comprised of leadership, staff, community members, law enforcement personnel, and our OCFS consultants. We also conduct numerous and varied drills throughout the year to educate our students, staff, and parents about our emergency procedures and use each as an opportunity to observe and acquire critical feedback regarding the effectiveness of our plans.
We understand that these events can impact our staff, students, and families in varied and often unpredictable ways. I have also included links to some essential resources for talking to children about violent incidents, which you may find helpful.
Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers (nasponline.org) https://www.edutopia.org/blog/tragedy-grief-resources-education
If you find that you or your child needs support, please do not hesitate to reach out to us by phone at (914) 949 – 8030 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I want to reiterate that we are here to help.
President & CEO YMCA of Central & Northern Westchester
Below are a variety of resources compiled to assist children and families with navigating trauma. This information is available in English and Spanish and is posted on the OCFS website.
Resources for individuals needing direct support:
* NY Project Hope Emotional Support Helpline can help you address the psychological stress caused by this tragedy – 1-844-863-9314
* SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline – 1-800-985-5990
* Mental Health Effects of Racism
* National Child Traumatic Stress Network
Resources for talking to children:
* Five Tips for Talking with Children About Hate Incidents (Anti-Defamation League)
* Talking to Children about Hate Crimes and Anti-Semitism (National Child Traumatic Stress Network)
* How to Talk with Kids About Racism and Racial Violence (Common Sense Media)
Additional links from the National Council for Treatment of Traumatic Stress
Additional resources for New Yorkers impacted by the Buffalo shooting are available.