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'This is the largest grant our district has ever received, and it could not have come at a better time,' Superintendent Bob Stewart.

Long-term work to mitigate the health, social-emotional and academic impacts of childhood trauma in Gladstone got a $575,000 grant. Another $40,000 from the Heatherington Foundation for Innovation and Education in Health Care will address two immediate needs for the Gladstone School District: nutrition support and technology.

"COURTESY PHOTO - Kraxberger Middle School's Student Wellness Center was designed to be a soothing place where students impacted by adversity can learn to regulate strong emotions.This is the largest grant our district has ever received, and it could not have come at a better time," said Superintendent Bob Stewart. "The quarantine has impacted children through isolation, anxiety, and financial hardship. These grants will enable us to take both immediate and long-term steps to address their health, academic, social-emotional and nutritional needs."

COURTESY PHOTO - Jeff Heatherington, president of the Heatherington Foundation of Innovation and Education in Health Care, Inc.Since 2011, the Gladstone School District has implemented programs to address the long-term impact childhood trauma has on physical, behavioral and social-emotional health.

Based on data from the 2018 Oregon Wellness Survey of eighth-grade students, a significant number have experienced adverse childhood experiences. This includes 38.6% who experienced parental divorce or separation, 32.9% who have lived with someone who is depressed or mentally ill and 30.3% who have lived with a problem drinker. Data shows that the more toxic stress children experience, the more likely they are to have difficulty focusing or regulating emotions, impulsivity or extreme passivity that interferes with their ability to learn. 

The district will use the $40,000 grant to address immediate needs, providing computers and technology access for academic instruction. Students learned new technology skills during recent distance learning, and having more computers will provide the flexibility to use those skills both in school classrooms or for home learning depending on the need. In addition, the district will be able to expand its nutrition programs to meet the growing needs of students, families and the community as a whole.

Nearly half a million dollars will support Gladstone's Culture of Care initiative, designed to address the long-term impacts of childhood trauma on students and their education. The school district's systemic approach focuses on teaching emotional resilience, providing caring mentors, and creating a safe and predictable learning environment. Extra-curricular activities are another component, providing adult role models, a positive peer group, skill building and a positive connection to school.

"FamilyCare Health and The Foundation have long been impressed with the unique ways Gladstone schools support their students," said Jeff Heatherington, president of the Heatherington Foundation. "This work is on the cutting edge of creating a healthy classroom environment to facilitate student education. We believe that this program can be expanded for the benefit of many other school districts and we have a long term commitment to the district as a recognized leader in this area."

"The benefits of this investment will increase exponentially as we share with districts across Oregon the best practices we've developed through workshops, tours and collaboration," said Stewart. "We have already seen the impact of these programs on student behavior and academic success, and I'm excited at this opportunity to bring that to more children moving forward."    


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