GARDNER — Local nonprofit Empower Children for Success has kindly donated 100 Calming Kits to Heywood Hospital’s Handle with Care First Responder Initiative. Among the recipients include 10-plus local area police departments, over six local area school districts and Heywood’s Athol and Gardner emergency department locations.
Heywood’s HWC Assistant Program Manager Renee Eldredge had met the Fitchburg nonprofit’s president and founder Marites MacLean at an event a year ago and began working toward a goal.
Since receiving the calming kits, the Handle with Care Initiative’s police departments and emergency rooms have successfully utilized the kits to provide children with positive reinforcements to remain emotionally regulated during a traumatic time.
The calming kits, which come with an informational flyer and a link to a step-by-step how-to video, are a welcomed resource for children when police arrive on the scene of a traumatic event, or provided while youths await services in the emergency room.
“It is a great resource to have in the cruisers for youth in crisis,” said Gardner Police Lt. John Czasnowski, who is also a Handle with Care Program Manager.
“The Heywood Athol Hospital’s emergency department (ED) staff are very thankful to Empower Children for Success; the 35 calming kits donated are used with children who come into the ED. The kits help soothe and distract children, and provide a better perception of their ED visit,” said Jessica Johnston, a Heywood Community Health worker at Athol Hospital Emergency Department. “The calming kits show children compassion for their emergent needs and how to self-regulate during a stressful, trauma inducing time. The kit also teaches the youth to reach out for help in the future if needed. Additionally, a few parents were so thankful, one parent even cried!”
In either case, the multiple sensory items provide the ability for the child to self-regulate, while providing the opportunity for the caregiver to co-regulate with their child.
Some items include a stuffed animal, bubbles, coloring items, a reading book, a pinwheel to work on breath control and more. Heywood’s Handle with Care team is fortunate to have been the recipient of this amazing resource to share with youth in our communities.
(Courtesy Empower Children for Success)