At Higher Achievement, we stand up for the rights of all families and children – to be together and to be safe. When families are pursuing freedom and safety, they go to great lengths to come to the United States, with the expectation that they will have a better life and new opportunities, that we will live up to the ideals of our democracy.
Instead, until last week, our government was intentionally separating these hopeful, courageous families, and thus creating deep lasting trauma for children and families. This trauma tears the social, collective fabric – and denigrates the ideals of our democracy. This inhumane policy inflicts trauma on young people that is ‘highly stressful for children and can cause lifelong trauma, as well as an increased risk of other mental illnesses, such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD,’ as noted by the American Psychiatric Association.
At Higher Achievement, we build meaningful, year-round, multi-year relationships with middle school scholars and their families. Our volunteer mentors broaden the communities and social capital of our scholars and help them navigate the choppy waters of the middle grades. Too many of our scholars encounter hardships in their communities and schools, and at Higher Achievement, we dive in to build the supportive relationships that are proven to be an antidote to toxic stress.
We suggest these resources for mentors who are working with youth experiencing trauma, as recommended by our national partner MENTOR:
While the hard work of reuniting families is complex and has just begun, we are proud to see that Americans have exercised their VOICE in our democracy to pressure the government to change its policies. Voice is one of the four social justice pillars of Higher Achievement, and it is just as relevant for our middle school scholars as it is for adults when speaking out against injustice.