Opening Plenary: Radically Healing Schools and Communities

There’s always a sense of possibility, despite what our conditions are or what we have done.

Ginwright2016That was the message that Dr. Shawn Ginwright, author of Hope and Healing in Urban Education, delivered to our attendees during the opening plenary of the 2016 National School-Based Health Care Convention. Hope and healing are always possible, Shawn tells us, despite the challenges that many children and adolescents face.

Challenges to Hope

Inequality is more than just a lack of opportunity. It actively harms communities and groups. Structural violence and social toxicity create a feeling of hopelessness for youth, which in turn serves a predictor of violent behavior, fatalism, and depression. Young people who experience these traumas need hope in order to move on the path from surviving and recovering to thriving.

What is Hope?

Dr. Ginwright presented the three elements of Snyder’s Theory of Hope:

  • Future goal orientation: As providers and mentors, we need to help young people think beyond the present and develop future goals and aspirations. However, goals aren’t enough.
  • Pathways: To build hope in young people, they need to believe that the pathways to achieve their aspirations exist.
  • Agency: Finally, they need the agency to go out and achieve their dreams.
If I’m Sick, We’re Sick

Dr. Ginwright presented next on audacious hope—the idea of healing from oppression in order to transform it. Audacious hope gives young people the tools they need to engage in radical healing, to detoxify their environments and create thriving communities. He outlined three types of radical healing:

  • Relational hope: Building relationships and communities to show young people that they are loved.
  • Restorative hope: Realigning resources and systems to address inequalities.
  • Political hope: Engaging young people in activism to give them a role in changing unjust school and social policies.
Practices That Build Hope and Healing

Dr. Ginwright finished his presentation with four steps school-based health care providers can take to ensure they are building hope and healing in their communities:

  • Articulate your vision
  • Review your budget against time and money spent on hope and healing
  • Establish buy-in from a core group of committed stakeholders
  • Create an inventory of policies and practices that promote or inhibit hope and healing
Follow the Coverage of Our 2016 Convention

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