Guess what I did last week? Went to the SHARP Professional Forum! What’s the SHARP Professional Forum? Well let me tell you…..
SHARP stands for Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention and it is a part of the US Army. The SHARP Academy is located at Fort Leavenworth and they host multiple professional forums each year. I attended their forum last fall and heard a fabulous presentation by Dr. Hopper about Sexual Assault and the Brain. For the forum this spring, they wanted a sharing of ideas from local universities about their response and prevention practices. Naturally I wanted to present about my school, Benedictine College. Because the advisor for our Sexual Assault Awareness group is so supportive, we presented!
Our presentation was an overview of the services that our group (Ravens C.A.R.E) offers to students on our campus. The main points that we focused on were our bystander intervention trainings, our peer support program and also our educational campaigns. The part I spoke about was our educational campaigns. Each year in April we hold Stand with Survivors week. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and we chose to use one week to focus on survivors of all trauma, even if it’s not sexual assault. We also do a presentation each spring called “Helping Survivors Heal” and this focuses on how to be a supportive friend to a survivor. We talk about sexual assault and also the practical aspects of what to say and was not to say. And finally, we organize a variety of self defense classes throughout the year.
So how does this relate to Child Life? As the goal of this blog is about my journey to become a Child Life Specialist, I do want to explain how this relates. I have a passion for working with Survivors of Sexual Assault. When working with survivors, it’s important to be empathetic. You must reflect and validate their feelings. The same can be applied to the world of Child Life. When a child is hurting, it’s important for us to think about their experience. In order to empathize with them, we need to begin to understand how they feel. What is overwhelming them? How are they understanding the doctor and the big words s/he is using? Working with college students who have survived trauma and can verbalize their experience makes it easier to imagine what a child goes through when they experience trauma.
It also relates to Child Life because there are many times in the hospital when a Child Life Specialist has to advocate for a child or present to other members about the role of Child Life. So practicing public speaking is a great idea to prepare for times when you will, as a Child Life Specialist, need to advocate for a child or family.