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Partnership builds trauma-informed development

In June the Philadelphia Inquirer published an editorial cosigned by NKCDC, Impact Services Corporation and the Thomas Scattergood Behavioral Health Foundation.

The overcast sky and occasional rain on May 20 couldn't dampen the community spirit at the annual Spring Fest at McPherson Park. This year was a particularly special event, because, in addition to the food, music and games, neighbors celebrated the 100th birthday of the library and recognized the contributions of park champion Awilda Ocasio.

Awilda Ocasio

Before she died in April, Awilda was the Community Engagement Coordinator at Impact Services Corporation and a tireless champion of Kensington and its residents. Awilda would have loved the Inquirer articles touting the amazing work the librarians at McPherson do every day, but she would have been crushed to see the park described as Needle Park and the neighborhood called a "hellscape."

Calling it Needle Park perpetuates a story about Kensington that reduces everyone here to victims or criminals, further instilling a sense of hopelessness. Awilda worked hard to change the narrative of Kensington so that people would recognize the vibrancy of her neighborhood and the strong spirit of its residents. Her work was part of a collaborative strategy to build collective strength and support a robust social network throughout the community.

Impact Services is working with several partners, including the New Kensington Community Development Corporation, Philadelphia LISC and the Scattergood Foundation to create a community engagement strategy that recognizes the histories of individual and community-wide trauma, yet focuses on creating environmental safety, building social connections, identifying neighborhood leadership and bringing together resources to create new opportunities for residents.

Referred to as "trauma-informed" community development, this strategy takes a page from the behavioral health field by acknowledging the physical and mental toll that comes from living in a neighborhood that suffers from decades of disinvestment, neglect, poverty and the narcotics trade, but doesn't view those experiences as the defining characteristics for the community or its residents. More.


New Kensington Community Development Corporation
2515 Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19125
P: (215) 427-0350  |  F: (215) 427-1302  |  info@nkcdc.org
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