Camp HOPE America Reports Powerful Results from Working with
Children Exposed to Domestic Violence
GREENSBORO, NC (March 8, 2018) – Siblings Michael and Emily (not their real names) knew well the impact of living in a home with domestic violence. For years, they witnessed their father abuse their mother, and on occasion, they too experienced his rage. Through the multitude of services provided from the Guilford County Family Justice Center partnership, this family found safety and support.
Last summer, seven-year-old Michael and eight-year-old Emily were part of the very first group of children who attended the Guilford County Family Justice Center’s Camp Hope America–North Carolina. Both Michael and Emily flourished at Camp HOPE as they participated in activities that included canoeing, swimming, and horseback riding–just to name a few! During camp, Michael and Emily could play, laugh, and connect with other children who had similar experiences without feeling shame or embarrassment. They experienced pathways to hope and their experience stretched far beyond the week of camp as they have continued to participate in monthly Camp HOPE America–North Carolina reunions.
Camp HOPE America is the first camping and mentoring program in the country focused on children impacted by domestic violence. Camp HOPE America started as a camping program in San Diego, CA but it has now moved on across the country with support from the Verizon Foundation and many other corporate and private donors. In 2017, Camp HOPE America operated in 11 states with more than 22 weeks of camp in the summer as well as year-round activities.
The University of Oklahoma’s (OU) Hope Research Center, under the leadership of Director Dr. Chan Hellman, has been evaluating the effectiveness of the Camp HOPE America camping and year-round mentoring program for four years. The new results show that Camp HOPE America produces statistically significant increases in hope and resilience in the lives of children with extreme trauma from childhood. “Hope is the best predictor of long-term well-being in children exposed to trauma,” says Hellman. “Hope is measurable and malleable,” says Camp HOPE America founder, Casey Gwinn. “We can measure hope and we can increase it in the lives of abused children. Once we increase hope, we can change the trajectories of their lives.”
The evaluation report released by the OU Hope Research Center stated, “The results of this evaluation support a growing body of evidence for the power of Camp HOPE America to change the lives of children exposed to domestic violence. The Pathways to HOPE Project can help sustain Hope and Resilience year-round among children and teens who are exposed to domestic violence.”
Gwinn says “In America, we raise our criminals at home. You can love trauma-exposed children when they are 11 or you can lock them up when they are 18 and say you are tough on crime. Rising hope changes the destinies of trauma exposed kids.” Gwinn continues, “Hope is measurable and now it is clear that rising hope scores change the destinies of traumatized children.”
The OU report concluded that an increase in children’s hope was associated with increases in the child’s belief in self, others and their dreams, psychological resilience, and positive attitude toward academics. Similarly, higher resilience is positively associated with academic self-perception, academic goals, and motivation and self-regulation.
According to more than 2,000 published pieces of research now, hope represents a positive psychological strength that promotes adaptive behaviors, healthy development, and both psychological and social well-being. Higher hope is associated with better coping skills and better health and health-related practices.
Gwinn hailed the investment of Verizon and many other funders. “If we as a nation invested the money and time necessary, as Verizon and other funders have, to give every trauma-exposed child a cheerleader and an opportunity like Camp HOPE America, we would empty our prisons and mental health facilities within two generations. We would dramatically reduce intimate partner violence and see stunning drops in crime rates across all categories.”
Catherine Johnson, Director of the Guilford County Family Justice Center takes every opportunity to share her community’s Camp HOPE success. Johnson states, “Here in Guilford County, we know well the transformational power of HOPE. Our program participants continue to amaze us with their strength and resiliency; and, our partners and volunteers continue to share the impact this program has had in their lives and in their work.”
In 2017, twenty-six children from Guilford County participated in Camp HOPE America- North Carolina. Plans for 2018 are well underway and partners from the Guilford County Family Justice Center are aiming to send fifty children to camp this summer. Camp HOPE America- North Carolina is held a Camp Weaver. The Guilford County Family Justice Center is the only FJC in North Carolina currently offering Camp HOPE. Local support for Camp HOPE America-North Carolina was generously provided by Weaver Foundation, Verizon, and many community donors.
The national research report is attached and more information can be found at www.camphopeamerica.org/outcomes/
For more information about Camp HOPE America visit www.camphopeamerica.org
Susan C. Danielsen
Public Information Officer
Greensboro Police Department
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Greensboro, NC 27402-3136
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