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City health department gets $5 million grant to address trauma in West Baltimore

Students ponder solutions to the violence in West Baltimore during a youth forum last Feburary at Bethel AME Church in Baltimore. The forum was organized by a coalition of community groups that won a $75,000 grant to develop a youth violence prevention plan after being featured in a Baltimore Sun series on the hidden impacts of crime and violence.
Students ponder solutions to the violence in West Baltimore during a youth forum last Feburary at Bethel AME Church in Baltimore. The forum was organized by a coalition of community groups that won a $75,000 grant to develop a youth violence prevention plan after being featured in a Baltimore Sun series on the hidden impacts of crime and violence. (Christopher T. Assaf)

The Baltimore City Health Department has received a $5 million federal grant to help families in West Baltimore deal with the traumatic affects of living in violent communities.

The five-year grant will be used to set up programs in Sandtown-Winchester, Penn North and Upton/Druid Heights that will include mentoring, yoga and other mindfulness activities, youth development and healing circles. The activities will center around trauma-informed care, which takes into accounts the way people's life experiences impact behavior and health.

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The money was awarded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Center for Mental Health Services for the Resiliency in Communities After Stress and Trauma.

West Baltimore is one of the most violent parts of the city and home to Freddie Gray, who died after suffering a spinal injury while in police custody, prompting protests and a night of riots.

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Community partners in the program will include, Behavior Health Systems Baltimore, Black Mental Health Alliance, C&C Advocacy, Communities United, Elev8 Baltimore, a Division of Humanim, Holistic Life Foundation, Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, New Lens Youth Media, No Boundaries Coalition, Office of the State's Attorney, Roberta's House, Seeds of Promise and the University of Maryland, School of Social Work.

A community board will help the health department decide how some of the money is used. The grant is the most recent of many approaches the city is using to address the impact of trauma on its citizens.

Twitter.com/ankwalker

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