Frightening or traumatic events – including violence, abuse, poverty or disasters – can cause different responses among children and adults. Children process traumatic events differently from adults. Without appropriate support, they are at risk of disrupted healthy social, emotional, academic and physical development.

Save the Children’s Journey of Hope programme provides this support. It aims to help children develop positive strategies to cope with traumatic events, build their natural resilience and strengthen their social support networks.

Journey of Hope offers five grade- and age-specific curricula designed to build resilience among children, youth and their caregivers, while helping them understand their feelings.

What we are doing

  • Helping children identify emotions and understand that it’s normal to feel angry, sad or frustrated during scary or difficult situations.
  • Giving children the words they need to express their feelings in a safe, small group setting.
  • Helping children develop healthy coping skills through structured games, stories, and creative activities.
  • Offering an encouraging environment that recognizes children’s individual strengths and positive behaviours.
  • Implemented by trained mental health professionals who can identify children who may need additional help or support.

Through cooperative play, literacy, discussion and art, children are provided a small-group setting to explore and normalize their emotions. As trained mental health facilitators lead the structured activities, children are allowed the space and encouragement to develop healthy coping mechanisms and identify internal and external social support systems.

Journey of Hope works. Through rigorous evaluation efforts, Save the Children has identified the following outcomes for Journey of Hope participants:

  • Teaches children to recognize and manage their emotions, which builds confidence, self-esteem, and “I believe I can” attitudes.
  • Develops positive peer relationships, which help children experience a collaborative environment based on respect and understanding.
  • Decreases disruptive behaviors, which creates more concentrated learning time in class.

The Journey of Hope has been implemented around the world, including in Canada. Save the Children implemented the program with Siksika Nation in Alberta following major flooding, and in 2017 in Fort McMurray after the wildfires.  Most recently the program was implemented in Manitoba to assist several First Nation communities transition back to their homes after significant flooding. There are broad applications for the Journey of Hope program as it relates to First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples, both following acute emergencies and in situations of ongoing intergenerational trauma, family violence, suicides, community alcohol and drugs issues, and poverty.