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Therapist shares simple idea that helped traumatized kids feel calmer after Sandy Hook tragedy

Campbell was working at a Connecticut elementary school in 2012 when 20 students and six adults were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.

Therapist shares simple idea that helped traumatized kids feel calmer after Sandy Hook tragedy
UVALDE, TX - MAY 24: Members of the community gather at the City of Uvalde Town Square for a prayer vigil on May 24, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas. (Photo by Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images)

Trigger warning: This story contains themes of gun violence that some readers may find distressing

Parents and children all over America are in complete shock in the wake of the mass shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Children who survived the traumatic attack are likely to be deeply scarred. A clinical psychologist who helped kids after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012 shared crucial information that could help children process the trauma and begin to heal from the tragedy. Katelyn Campbell, from South Carolina, took to Twitter to explain how parents and teachers can help the affected kids heal. “Kids process their feelings through play and art,” Campbell told TODAY Parents. She explained that one way for kids to begin to heal was to have them help 'other kids' through art. Campbell said the key was to make them feel useful about helping others when in truth they were helping themselves.

UVALDE, TEXAS - MAY 25: Community members mourn together at a vigil for the 21 victims in the mass shooting at Rob Elementary School on May 25, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas. Nineteen students and two adults were killed, with the gunman fatally shot by law enforcement. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

 

 
Campbell was working at an elementary school in Connecticut in 2012 when 20 students and six adults were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. The school Campbell worked at was just 30 minutes away from Sandy Hook. She explained how teachers and therapists could help kids heal. "What helped: We had our kids draw pictures of scenery that made them feel calm — we then hung them up around the school—to make the 'other kids who were scared' have something calm to look at," she wrote. Campbell stressed that it was important that the kids felt they were helping someone else. "But really, it gave the kids something to 'do' that felt useful. Kids, like adults, want to feel helpful when they feel helpless. And they loved the idea that they could help 'other kids' feel better (they were the scared ones, but it’s easier to talk about the 'other kids')," she wrote. 



 

 

Campbell explained it was important to choose words carefully while helping them heal. "We didn’t use the language 'safe' place because that can be a tough and loaded concept for kids who never feel safe. So we used language around feeling 'calm' or 'peaceful' and the kids ran with it," she wrote. "Many asked to make multiple pictures. We were ready to wallpaper the place." She added that students from other classes were also eager to help. "Other classes jumped in and our school was covered with rainbows, beaches, pretty flowers, playgrounds, and happy scenery by the end of the day. I’m pretty sure it helped us, adults, too. They stayed up for weeks," she wrote. Campbell recalled her experience of working with elementary school aged kids after the Sandy Hook shooting. “The kids were really frightened and overwhelmed,” said Campbell. “They all came asking questions like, ‘Am I safe? Is someone going to come and shoot me?’ It was absolutely heartbreaking.” 



 

 

Sandy Phillips, who lost her daughter Jessi in a 2012 mass shooting in a movie theater, said that they can survive the pain. "They want to die right now. They don't want to take another breath. And when we go in and we actually meet with these people, we let them know that we felt the same way," she said, reported NPR. "I tell them that if I'd had a gun in the house, I probably would not be here today. But ... we did survive, and we did find joy again. And we still miss our daughter and always will. And our lives will never be the same, and neither will theirs." Sandy Phillips has been advocating for better gun control reform and will continue to do so. "I want to say it's unbelievable, but it's not," she says of the Uvalde tragedy. "It's predictable. And it's preventable."


The school shooting at Uvalde, Texas, is a developing story, and we’ll update as we learn more. Information is swiftly changing and Upworthy is committed to providing the most recent and verified updates in our articles and reportage. However, considering the frequency in developments, some of the information/data in this article may have changed since the time of publication.
  
If you're struggling to cope with grief, and need help, please reach out to Crisis response at 1-800-203-CARE (2273)

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