It is truly wonderful to share with our community the many success stories of the children Square One serves. However, we often focus on what Square One is, and must always give equal billing to WHO Square One is and the very real world too many of our children live in. A world filled with the kind of stress that those of us in our good fortune cannot fully appreciate. To better understand, sometimes we need to stop and recognize the emotional reality in which so many of our children live.
Let me tell you about a girl (I’ll call) Sophia. She is 4 years old and currently enrolled at Square One’s King Street Children's center. We’ve actually known Sophia for some time. She was at our Main Street center on the day it was destroyed by the tornado. In the transition that followed the tornado, we reconnected with Sophia when she reenrolled at our temporary location at MCDI. While enrolled there she experienced behavioral challenges. She often had a tough time. It was not easy for Sophia.
When Square One was able to move out of MCDI, Sophia was transferred to our King Street center. During this time her mother – a very young woman – was having problems with the law that did not land her in jail, but did result in Sophia’s grandmother getting legal custody. The grandmother is herself quite young, yet she is making an effort and doing the best she can. She has a job and has to work weekends. That means Sophia ping pongs back and forth between relatives while grandma works.
As you can imagine, there’s been little continuity in her home life. What there has been is plenty of stress, including a home invasion that resulted in her pet kitty being killed. The level of stress in this child’s life is difficult to fathom. She didn’t ask for this experience, but because of her environment it is her reality. It can be unbearable to think of what this little girl’s life is and has been like. It makes you realize that often there are reasons, beyond what can be seen on the surface, that help to explain why children may be emotionally challenged and struggling with behavior that can be disruptive and at time, disturbing.
When a child walks through any door at Square One, we don't immediately know everything that’s going on in their lives. We expect them to sit down and sing a song. To learn to write their name and learn alongside other children. Yet, their situations may be so stressful that lashing out is a survival mechanism. Sophia is one of those children – sadly one of many children – who absolutely need Square One. They need us to be here, and we do everything we can for them.
There is, however, good news about Sophia. She is with us five days a week. She arrives to find a warm greeting from people who treat her well and care for her. She is fed wholesome meals. She has the chance to socialize with other children. The center's Director had Sophia screened by the Behavioral Health Network, which offers professional counseling, to help this little girl with her daily struggles. A Square One Family Support Specialist helped Sophia's grandmother find additional resources to help her offset her income so she no longer works weekends. Sophia no longer acts out and has made many new friends.
The individuals and organizations that support Square One are providing Sophia with the most consistent, healthy and safe place in her young world. Stop and consider, if you would, what Sophia’s present would be like and what her future would hold if not for Square One.