Following the Flint Water Crisis, the University of Louisville’s Resilient Families Project team members sought to connect their work in risk, resilience, mindfulness and happiness to the community of Flint, Michigan. In doing so, 11 students from UofL’s team have been working since last June to collaborate with members of the Flint community to plan and launch a Resilience Summit in Flint, Michigan.
This work was supported by a grant awarded to Dr. Lora Haynes by the Association for Psychological Science to engage in the teaching and application of the science of psychology. Haynes, from the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, directs UofL’s RFP, now completing its sixth year. The program is co-directed by the Rev. Valerie Mansfield from Unity of Louisville.
Following months of planning meetings with a 23-member Resilience Summit Planning Committee in Flint, and weekly UofL RFP Travel Team meetings here in Louisville, this collective effort culminated in a full 3-day resilience conference – a first for Flint – titled, Triumph over Trauma: Celebrating the Resilience of our Community. This summit took place March 14–17 and was sponsored by:
- Genesee Health System
- the Genesee Intermediate School District
- ReCAST (a Resiliency in Communities After Stress and Trauma grant provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA))
- Hurley Children’s Hospital
- Safe Kids of Greater Flint
The summit involved more than 800 attendees from the following three tracks:
- Community (youth, young adults, parents, grandparents, seniors, representatives from faith-based organizations)
- Education (principals and school administrators, university and school support staff, K-12 teachers, early childhood educators, charter school personnel, bus drivers, lunch room staff, home school liaisons)
- First Providers (public health professionals, nurses, pediatricians and physicians, mental health professionals, home visitors and outreach workers)
Attendees came from the city of Flint, Genesee County, and from as far away as Washington, D.C., Maryland and California.
During the conference, Haynes presented two keynote addresses, and the 12-person travel team was responsible for presenting four breakout sessions, hosting a World Café conversation on resilience, facilitating a discussion of the documentary Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope, and supporting conference presenters and staff wherever possible.
The team also attended a Public Health Symposium held at the University of Michigan–Flint, and met with professionals and community members outside of the conference. Members had the opportunity to spend time with key management and staff at the Genesee County Health Department and the Plumbers Union to discuss their efforts in response to the Water Crisis.
They toured Flint and the surrounding area, which included parts of the city that continue to be most affected by the crisis, and also delivered donations of bottled water, lead testers, door prizes and gift bags, UofL and Louisville ‘swag’, t-shirts and snacks.
Team members from UofL include:
- Danielle Deal, Double Major in Psychology and Political Science
- James Armes, BA University of Louisville, Major in Psychology, Minor in Anthropology
- Jordan Blaine, BA University of Louisville, Major in Psychology, Minor in Philosophy, current MSSW student in UofL’s Kent School of Social Work, current MA student in University of Louisville’s Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies w/concentration in Bioethics
- Savanna Cooper, University of Louisville, honors student, Major in Psychology, Minor in Social Change
- Catherine Leinenbach, University of Louisville, Major in American Sign Language Interpreting Studies, Minor in Psychology
- Mimi Stanis, University of Louisville, Major in Nursing
- Elias Chavez, University of Louisville, honors student, Major in Mechanical Engineering, Minor in Social Change
- Brittany Phillips, University of Louisville, Major in Sociology, Minor in Pan-African Studies
- Kassidy Haynes, Meyzeek Middle School, youth MST representative, BETA Club
- Valerie Mansfield, BA, Associate Minister, Unity of Louisville; Co-Director of the Resilient Families Project (RFP) @ Wayside Christian Mission’s Hotel Louisville
- Lora D. Haynes, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of Louisville; Director of the Resilient Families Project (RFP) @ Wayside Christian Mission’s Hotel Louisville; Departmental Director of Internships and Service-Learning; Departmental Director of Distance Education
- Nannie Croney, BA, University of Louisville, Double Major in Pan-African Studies and Political Science, Minor in Communication, current MSW student in University of Louisville’s Kent School of Social Work, current Wayside Christian Mission and RFP Practicum Student (did not travel to Flint)
What is next
Since returning from this trip, the RFP travel team has been focused on efforts and opportunities to sustain this work – to share their experiences, grow their network of connections, and continue collaborations with friends and colleagues in Flint and here in Louisville.
Six members of the original team have committed to travel to Flint for another four days (May 8–11). They will be attending the Genesee County Health Department’s full-day Public Health Conference at the University of Michigan–Flint on May 9, and will be meeting with members of the Genesee Intermediate School District and the Michigan Association of School Nurses. This team will also attend a Pediatric Public Health Initiative Update Meeting at Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine in Flint.
Additional time will be spent engaging with community members about their personal experiences with the Water Crisis to explore how their crisis and recovery efforts have been driven by resilience, happiness and hope. This team will continue to learn, engage, and share resources surrounding individual, family and community resilience from multi-generational and life-span perspectives, with the aim of continuing to address the current crisis and future recovery in Flint, especially for Flint’s youngest members.
Information provided by Lora Haynes.