Community Columns

A safe place for children and teens to escape trauma opens in Modesto

By Kathleen Rowe-Glendon

A mural at the new Haven Youth Center in downtown Modesto, opening Aug. 22, 2019.
A mural at the new Haven Youth Center in downtown Modesto, opening Aug. 22, 2019. Courtesty of Haven Women’s Center of Stanislaus

This world can be a difficult place for a young person.

With violent images from television, movies, social media and video games, kids barely have any space to deal with vicarious trauma. Violence in the home adds another layer. These feelings can become impossible to manage because all their perceptions are filtered through the lens of trauma.

Children, adolescents and teens can and do take responsibility for things that are beyond their control. Also, they do model their parents’ behavior. It is vital that they be connected with safe places in order to process these emotions in a healthy fashion. This is the major reason why Haven chose to channel resources to open a youth center.

Holly Grace Currie, Haven’s youth and prevention services manager, has a wonderful take on the process of making her dream of a youth center for Haven a reality. Holly Grace speaks movingly about her “secret formula for manifesting great things.” Her feeling is that dreams and great things can come true if you “dream big (& get specific!); speak your intention (out loud & often!); seek (emotional, financial, energetic, material) support from people who believe in your vision; and allow it to happen.”

The unveiling of Haven’s youth center is 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at 725 18th St. in Modesto, next to Central Valley Specialty Hospital. It will be a welcoming, safe place where kids can go to process their trauma.

Haven’s prevention services, especially those directed toward children and teens, have exploded in the past several years. Since its inception in 2015, the HARRT program has trained youth leaders and peer educators who have, collectively, reached 7,940 Stanislaus County residents (mostly youth) with educational outreach and healthy relationships campaigns. Haven’s holistic, client-centered approach allows the agency’s youngest participants to control their level of interaction with peers and promotes individual empowerment in a group setting. Their keystone programs are Kids Count! Teens Count! and T.R.U.S.T.

Haven’s youth programs offer direct instruction and interactive exercises to engage group participation and creative expression through artistic outlets. Youth educators work with children and teens to identify different forms of violence and abuse, to set and maintain healthy boundaries, to recognize and express feelings appropriately, to manage anger in healthier ways, and to create a personal safety plan.

Haven is beyond grateful for its wonderful supporters that allowed Holly Grace to make this dream a reality, allowing us to make a difference with thousands of young people in Stanislaus County.

Kathleen Rowe-Glendon is a former Modesto Bee visiting editor and a community activist. She wrote this for The Bee.