Why Heart House


Culturally relevant social emotional learning

Imagine the chaos of being forced to flee from your home, and ensuing trauma that would result as you resettle to a new country. Now imagine being a child. The weight of the trauma you carry is only intensified as you navigate through a culture you do not understand. Refugee children face the challenge of resettlement in a new country, while simultaneously working to overcome poverty, trauma recovery, and barriers to academic success. Children refugees are over-represented in school district special education programs, are less likely to graduate from high school, and more likely to encounter crime and exposure to risky behaviors.

Studies indicate that refugee mental health is impacted by pre-migration experiences of war, relocation to a new home country, separation from caregivers, harsh living conditions; and post-migration resettlement issues such as legal negotiations, education, discrimination and social exclusion. Undiagnosed mental health outcomes often include PTSD, depression, adjustment disorders, grief reactions, inattention and more.

But there’s more than hope, there’s a solution. Research shows that social-emotional learning-focused afterschool programs result in positive impacts on school-aged children. Studies have found that programs like the Heart House model provide the most effective interventions and promote emotional, social and cognitive development, community collaboration and support, encourage resilience, growth and positive change. For nearly two decades, Heart House has worked with refugees towards acculturation, allowing a safe space for the non-verbal emotional right brain to communicate with the verbal left brain where they can then talk about and express their emotions and experiences in a constructive way.



Who you support

Many of Vickery Meadow’s 53,000 residents are immigrants and refugees. Of that population 5,303 are under the age of six, and 3,932 are between the ages of six and thirteen. 39% are considered “asset poor.” Heart House serves children from various backgrounds and ethnicities that truly reflect the community in which we operate. We currently have 18 languages and dialects represented in our program.


Learn about the students