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Students to accompany Indiana State prof to global protection of children conference in Kenya

January 22, 2016

As inhumanity casts its wide shadow over the world, three Indiana State University clinical mental health counseling graduates will travel to Kenya to be part of an international coalition seeking to bring hope to youth in war-torn areas.

Clinical mental health counseling program graduate students Lucille Gardner of Jersey City, N.J. and Courtney Hull and Francesca McCarthy, both of Terre Haute, will accompany Catherine Tucker, associate professor of counseling in the Bayh College of Education, to Nairobi, Kenya, Feb. 6-14, the International Conference on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children.

Tucker invited all students in the clinical mental health counseling program to the conference, which will focus on the youngest of the nearly 60 million people worldwide whom the United Nations estimates have been displaced by armed conflict - the highest figure since World War II.

"Because they will encounter refugee families through their work, the students need to know what it's like to live in a place where everything seems fine one minute, then the next minute a civil war breaks out and you have to flee," Tucker said. "It's something a lot of people experience globally and we need to have mental health providers who are ready to help. Going to a conference for a week will not make them 100 percent ready, but it will give students an idea of what life is like for children in this situation."

The students will present at a poster session and hear from key government, international bodies, civil society and faith-based organizations on the impact of armed conflict and terrorism on children and strategies to protect them.

"In December 2014, I had the opportunity to travel to India with Dr. Tucker and had an incredible experience. When she announced that she would be going to Africa, it was an easy decision," Hull said. "I am very passionate about service learning and international immersion. I jump at any opportunity that I have to engage in work that allows me to serve others and learn about a culture that differs from my own."

Gardner and Hull's presentation will focus on the use of trauma informed care in conflict areas, as such care is meant to empower survivors, aid in reestablishing autonomy and better equip them to avoid re-traumatization.Gardner said they prepared the poster presentation using research they learned about trauma, adding in new research on how effective trauma informed care is, who is affected by conflict and many areas of focus included in trauma.

"I believe this trip helps with my future career goals by allowing me the opportunity to learn more about culture," Gardner said. "It is my hope to work primarily with people of color in underserved areas. In America, I encounter a number of different people. Therefore, having the opportunity to visit the homes of those I will encounter provides me with a rich context when working with clients."

"Presenting at the International Conference on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children will significantly contribute to my professional development and give me a unique opportunity to gain experience on an international platform," added Hull, who plans to pursue a doctorate after completing her master's degree. "I hope to continue to have opportunities to make an impact and grow personally while traveling abroad."

Following the conference, which is co-hosted by The African Network for the Prevention and Protection Against Child Abuse and Neglect and the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, the students will have the opportunity to sight-see in Nairobi and work with youth at Lake Nakuru National Park.

"We are privileged as U.S. citizens to not know what it's like to live with war and armed conflict all around us, but that's not the case for many children around the world," Tucker said. "I want our students, as they prepare to be mental health providers and help people from all over the world, to have a better understanding of what it is like to live in developing countries where these struggles are real and what that experience is like, especially for children caught in the middle."

Contact: Catherine Tucker, associate professor of counseling, Bayh College of Education, Indiana State University, catherine.tucker@indstate.edu

Writer: Betsy Simon, media relations assistant director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-7972 or betsy.simon@indstate.edu

 

Story Highlights

Clinical mental health counseling program graduate students Lucille Gardner of Jersey City, N.J. and Courtney Hull and Francesca McCarthy, both of Terre Haute, will accompany Catherine Tucker, associate professor of counseling.

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