Poverty, and all of its consequences, can rob a child of a childhood. According to Saundra Barker, Chief Program Officer for Saint Louis Counseling (formerly Catholic Family Services), “It sort of becomes who you are and either makes you more committed or want to give up.” Little Bit and Saint Louis Counseling share a desire to empower students through crises and see them rise above. Together, we currently provide on-site behavioral therapists in six Little Bit schools, with The Sunshine Box program.
“Our therapists are involved in crisis intervention with students daily, seeing some on a regular basis for individual counseling and others as needed,” says Barker. Therapists also participate in classroom presentations and regular consultation with school staff. “You can’t say there’s a typical day for our kids, but our role is to provide them the tools, the skills to process and manage their feelings of trauma, anger, depression and anxiety – and to be there for them.”
“They are strong and resilient without realizing it – they simply keep going day after day – and many of them have a will to help others,” says therapist Katie McDonough. “I try to build on this by helping them learn to empower themselves and others around them, find positive things in each day and build self-esteem to know they can achieve their dreams despite their setbacks.” In the last school year, 72% of students who received individual counseling showed improved functioning in the classroom.