Students who attend Christel House SA come from some of the most vulnerable communities on the Cape Flats. These areas are notorious for violent crime, gangsterism, substance abuse and unemployment, which affect our students in a multitude of ways and often lead to deep-seated trauma.
It is widely believed that children who have had more than a handful of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) suffer from trauma and struggle to thrive. ACE’s are potentially traumatic events that occur in childhood and negatively impact the child’s life and education. In adulthood, the person may experience issues like chronic health problems, mental illness and substance abuse. Receiving love and understanding as a child and having the ability to trust someone, like a teacher or counsellor could mitigate the effects of trauma.
As a trauma-informed school, our teachers and staff acknowledge the multidimensional nature of trauma – and commit to meeting our children with care. We understand that poverty causes emotional and social challenges, health and safety issues and acute and chronic stressors in children. Our social services department includes nurses, social workers and counsellors who work with our teachers to help students overcome issues such as stress, anxiety and trauma.
The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), an independent research agency conducted interviews in August 2020, with our students and alumni. They found that students appreciate the “warm and positive institutional culture” and alumni believed that “without interventions from counsellors and social workers at our school, they would not have been able to overcome traumatic circumstances at home and successfully navigate their schooling and professional careers.”
Research has proven that children who experience poverty and have undergone severe trauma are not likely to excel. Yet, our students continue to break the mould. We believe that this is a direct result of our holistic model, trauma-informed practices and the remarkable resilience shown by our students.