Road to recovery: How an innovative community-centered program is helping children and families build lives after trauma


Nina Johnson watched over her 17-year-old son, Romel, as he slept fitfully in a hospital bed, recovering from a gunshot wound in his stomach. After an argument, Romel had been shot by a friend of a friend, barely escaping with his life when the gun jammed before any additional shots could be fired. Nina prayed and held Romel’s hand, devastated and afraid for her son.

In the days after the shooting, Nina found a soothing presence in visits from counselors, violence recovery specialists, and child life specialists that are part of the University of Chicago Medicine’s BHC (Block Hassenfeld Casdin) Collaborative for Family Resilience. They visited Nina and Romel in the hospital soon after the shooting, offering support, information and counseling. 

The BHC Collaborative helped Nina understand that after Romel’s physical injury healed, he would still have ongoing pain, nightmares and mood swings from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). She said that the program was a “godsend” for Romel and for herself. It helped her know what to look for in her son’s recovery, and how she could be there for him. She is also learning how to better take care of herself.

Tap here to read the full story from UChicago Medicine

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