Designing Trauma Sensitive Baltimore Schools

Designing Trauma Sensitive Baltimore Schools


master's thesis research at maryland institute college of art

 It’s time to stop asking ‘what’s wrong with this child?’ & start asking, ‘What happened to this child?’
— Child development experts

Summary: The healthy development of children and youth is a topic that's very close to my heart. My thesis research for the Master of Arts in Social Design program at MICA in Baltimore centered around the long-term impact of youth-experienced trauma. I was originally interested in understanding the negative effects of child abuse and neglect, and as I interviewed subject matter experts and community members in historically marginalized neighborhoods, I learned more about the social determinants of health and the chronic stress and trauma experienced by many children and youth in Baltimore. 

I also learned that many Baltimore schools were moving towards trauma-informed practices such as restorative justice over punitive discipline, and that some had started mindfulness programs to help youth deal with stress in productive ways. While these practices don't address the root causes of the trauma and chronic stress in Baltimore (e.g., generational poverty and institutional racism), they're a step in the right direction.

Process: As part of my thesis work, I facilitated workshops with local educators and child development experts to learn how Baltimore schools could be more trauma sensitive. 

Outcomes: Together, we identified practices that could positively impact emotional health, and created a model for trauma sensitive schools in Baltimore. A large-format poster of the visualization was featured in Jennifer Pearl Gray's thesis exhibit about community trauma at Jubilee Arts Gallery during and after the Baltimore Uprising. 

Role: Facilitator, Design Strategy, Visual Design