A Resilient Community Is One That Shares Stories

By Windy Lopez, Director of Community Affairs, Scholastic Inc.

Our world, our communities, our lives seem to be changing by the second these days. So it’s not surprising that over the past few months many of us have been reading and talking about issues related to grit and resilience. Showing children how to navigate life’s challenges successfully is perhaps one of the greatest gifts we can give them.

Research shows that having positive social connections with others and with the community at large helps us cope with stress and be able to take advantage of life’s opportunities. In fact, social support is one of the strongest predictors of resilience.

So how do we more effectively foster these positive connections, especially in communities (whether rural or urban) where social isolation is high and affects everything from low self-worth to poor health outcomes and academic failure?

Scholastic and Yale Child Study Center have begun to develop new literacy-based strategies that foster resilience in children, families, and communities. And, we’ve had the incredible opportunity to pilot in Tracy City (Grundy County, Tennessee). Joining with - and guiding - us on this journey are an extraordinary group of collaborators including Sewanee: The University of the South, Tracy City Elementary School and South Cumberland Collaborative for Children and Families, a new coalition of local community leaders.

As part of the pilot, we’ve created Camp Discover: Me, My Community, My World, a summer program that places a strong emphasis on exploring, sharing and celebrating the community’s rich stories and heritage. Designed to bridge school, home and the community, the curriculum builds on the natural connections that exist between literacy and social connectedness.

Initial data from last year's inaugural camp showed a significant impact, with the majority of family members reporting that they noticed positive changes in their children after the camp experience, including personal and social growth, greater selfconfidence, and increased interest in and knowledge of the community.

But it’s seeing and hearing the impact straight from the children and community that tells the real story. Thank you to our friends at Sewanee: The University of the South for making this beautiful video of this year’s camp.

I hope you’ll take a moment to watch, be inspired and perhaps share with us. What more can we as educators, families, and leaders be doing to foster resiliency?
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