By Kate Miller, Manager of Counseling Services
Imagine that you are out in the depths of the ocean in a small wooden boat. You are rocked from side to side and the mammoth ocean threatens to swallow you whole. Eventually, the boat starts to drift towards the shore and finally you reach land. Even though you are safe and sound you find yourself struggling to trust the ground beneath you and you still find yourself scanning your environment for things that will float well in case your boat capsizes even though you’ve been safe on dry land for quite a while.
This is the mindset that many of our refugee and immigrant children have when they first come to Heart House. Heart House is a non-profit organization that provides safety, education, and opportunity to refugee and underprivileged children. Children that come from war-torn countries or countries where they have experienced extreme poverty in countries with no safety net. It is hard for these children to really believe that they are safe once they come to the United States. At Heart House, our goal is to help these students transition from a mindset of chaos to calm.
The children’s lives are in total chaos. They are thrown from a chaos that is known—war, the death of a beloved family member–to a chaos that is unknown—navigating a new school system in a foreign language. Often these students are stuck in their state of chaos. They feel as though they’re in the tiny wooden boat even though in reality they’re safe on dry ground.
Our program is different from traditional after-school and summer programs. We take a holistic approach to student development- Head, Heart, Hands. We focus on students’ cognitive development that helps to build academic skills (head), social-emotional learning and counseling (heart), and acculturation/experiential learning (hands). Our counseling and social-emotional learning program is the heart of the house. We’ve instituted skill based groups, individual therapy and process group therapy in ways that meet students where they are by processing emotions and life events through play and activity therapies.
The video below is a recreation of a success story of a refugee student who was living in total chaos. She began play therapy at Heart House. After successful completion, she is adjusting well to life in the states. She is doing well academically— passed the STAAR test, went from being a lonely territorial student to having many friends, and known for welcoming new kids and helping them navigate the new environment at Heart House.It is our goal to take more students from chaos to calm in this way. Help us by donating to Heart House today. Your support will provide more trained therapists, play and activity therapy supplies, and space designated for counseling. Click here, to donate. Thank you in advance for your support.