Community Now helps children overcome trauma

Good News Notes:

An organization in Moreno Valley works to prevent the stressors of childhood trauma to build a stronger community.

Founded in 2010, Community Now offers programs that reduce the danger of long-term mental stress or mental illness that result from “adverse childhood experiences.” Experiences that create childhood trauma can include abuse, neglect and the loss of a parent.

Community Now’s Get Plugged In is a school-based mental-health program that helps third- through eighth-graders develop coping and critical thinking skills. Through social emotional learning, youths learn to address triggers created by adverse childhood experiences. Adult-led activities help youths learn they have choices in how they respond when confronted with stressors.

‘Everything I do is based on my youth and my experiences and my goal is to teach them to cope,’ said Shor Denny, the organization’s founder and CEO. “We are one of the few organizations that focus on elementary schools.”

Children are taught to challenge their negative thoughts, gain a sense of responsibility and self-confidence while setting and reaching goals. Youths also create a sense of community and learn that they are not alone.

The program improves attendance and academic achievement, but the life skills youth gain are more difficult to measure, Denny said. These skills reduce risky behaviors such as self-harm and drug abuse that result from adverse childhood experiences.

Community Now also offers Me, Myself & Mine Natural Hair Education. This program helps parents and youths learn how to care for and maintain kinky and curly hair, increasing skill, self-confidence and pride. Denny grew up in a household of adults with no experience with curly hair like hers. She created the program to help young girls like herself and to give foster parents confidence.

Community Now is responding to the restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic by creating virtual programs. The organization is seeking volunteer youth actors and artists to build online offerings that blend entertainment with education.

Denny also sees an opportunity to work more with teachers and administrators. The organization’s Coaching for Cultural Success will help educators further build their emotional intelligence and discover new positive ways to interact with students while facing the challenges of remote learning.”

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