by Mary Kirsling
During the 2016 MNA Convention, a resolution regarding gun violence prevention was updated and passed by the House of Delegates. In response to that resolution, GAC members joined Protect Minnesota to lobby at the legislature to defeat four really terrible bills and we were successful. This fall Protect Minnesota together with the School of Public Health at the U of M, Minnesota Public Health Association and the Nobel Peace Prize Forum put on a conference on gun violence. The Board voted to help sponsor the conference and three of us GAC members attended.
It was, in my opinion, the best conference I have ever attended. This conference was two days jam packed with national speakers on every topic that gun violence touches. The conference focused on inter-related public health problems that can be solved through community-based responses. What I liked best about this conference was it really explored and gave excelled examples of programs that work, both nationally and right here at home in Minnesota.
There were breakout sessions in the afternoons and we divided those up amongst us so we could cover most topics. All of us will share a little about a couple of those session.
The first was about Camp Noah: Building Resiliency in Children Impacted by Trauma. Children who suffer adverse childhood events are placed at higher risk for depression, not only in childhood, but later in life (this topic was covered in another breakout session). This program was developed after the 1997 Red River flood in Minnesota and North Dakota when it was discovered that high numbers of children were reporting sleep disturbances, anxiety, poor concentration in school and a drop in achievement. Lutheran Social Services developed a program to teach these children resiliency skills. It is now a national program and is designed to help in any kind of collective trauma, including gun violence. The program is free to any community in need of its services. A team arrives with all supplies needed for a week and provides a camp for these kids. They coordinate with local churches or organizations to help coordinate activities, transportation, meals, etc. At the end of the week, each child goes home with a preparedness backpack that can be placed by their bed. This program reports a 93% overall improvement and has been used in 33 states and Puerto Rico.
The second one is from Sandy hook Promise. Tim Makris, one of the Sandy Hook parents, led the group. Sandy Hook’s mission is to prevent, identify, and intervene. This is done by:
- Educating in the middle school
- Building an influential majority
- Organizing and mobilizing