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Educating toward resilience

Updated: Aug 14, 2020

by Katherine Beneby

“The only way forward is to move.” These were powerful words stated by Rev. Henry Knowles, Queen’s College Principal, days after Hurricane Dorian devastated Grand Bahama and Abaco. He admonished the staff to acknowledge the current circumstances and recognize that the only way we get can get to a sense of normalcy is through action. To date, many affected families have been relocated to Nassau, some Family Islands and parts of the United States. How do we remain resilient as we experience such adversity? Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. The Resilience Framework, originally created by Angie Hart and Derek Blincow (with help from Helen Thomas and a group of parents and practitioners), gives further context for school administrators, teachers, business owners and anyone working with those affected by Hurricane Dorian. Although this resource was first designed for children and youth, it has expanded to include adults. It has five main compartments: Basics, Belonging, Learning, Coping and Core Self. Basics. Look at the necessities of life (food, shelter, money etc.). Basics are important because we can’t break through to the other compartments of resilience until these fundamental needs are met. For hundreds of families the sense of security has been gravely impacted. Children and adults have been forced to create a new life. The government and various organizations have been doing their part to ensure people get the basics, however, there are still many individuals and families who require basic attention. We must not lose heart as many people still need this foundational level of help. Belonging puts great focus on good relationships. This compartment believes healthy relationships and good influences assist people in remaining hopeful. In the interim, how can we create a sense of belonging for those who have been displaced? Although a child or adult may no longer have their physical home, how can we create a sense of belonging in their temporary spaces (e.g. shelter, school, church)? There is a quote that states, “Home is where the heart is”. Once a person can feel love they will have sense of belonging. This is a challenge to all Bahamians to stand together in building positive, encouraging, and supportive relationships with families affected by Dorian. As we stir a sense of belonging, allow people to talk and focus on good times and experiences. It is also important for children to make friends and mix with other children. For adults, changing your scenery or doing something new can truly be a boost. Learning focuses on finding out about and discovering new things. Once a child is sorted with school or an adult has secured a job, it’s important to explore less formal ways of learning, like developing interests, talents and life skills. These can be old or new interests, but in keeping with the Resilience Framework the goal is to use these to help the child or young person organize her/himself. Kudos to the young sailors from Abaco who recently competed in Optimist North American Championship (OPTINAM). They used their passion, interest and expertise to get their minds off Dorian, and instead focus on something they enjoy and excel at. Jasmin Amberle showed courage and tenacity amidst devastation. According to Keir Clarke, head coach of the team, “We found out that she was on a ferry from Abaco to Nassau and found some housing. That girl is the most focused, genuine and sound individual.” Amberle is an example to all of us of revisiting a passion, organizing ourselves around it, and moving forward. Coping is all about the things children and adults do to make it through each day amidst challenges. This could mean being brave, standing up for our views and beliefs, or going after our goals and dreams etc. The effects of Dorian will be felt for a long time and we must not rush this process of grief after loss. Yes, we must be resilient and keep moving but it’s also okay to stop, share and cry if we need to. Don’t be afraid to seek or ask for help. If you are working with survivors, it is important to be open and understanding. Remember, everyone acts and responds differently to trauma so it’s vital that we are sensitive to their needs. Core Self puts emphasis on our inner self (i.e. our thoughts and beliefs). Who we are on the inside really shows in difficult situations. As adults it’s important that we not only learn how to cope with challenges, but also equip our children to positively respond to crisis. Observe a baby when he or she falls; if the parent makes a big stir the child will more than likely cry, but if the parent remains calm and collected the child knows that she will be okay and is less likely to cry. Most children experience at least one traumatic experience in their life. Are we building our children to tap into resiliency or defeat? A key way to build resilience is through our beliefs. The Resilience Framework encourages us to know ourselves. If we believe we are strong, courageous and an overcomer, we can and will embody these characteristics when faced with a tough situation. Visit to learn more about the Resilience Framework. If ever there is a time for us to nurture resilience in children, young people, and adults it is now. May we model responsibility for ourselves, face problems, and live resiliently so our children can have a pattern to follow. • Find out more about the Queen’s College Centre for Further Education (QCCFE) on Facebook or at Katherine Beneby II is the director of operations and marketing at the QCCFE, as well as a certified John C. Maxwell speaker, trainer and coach. She can be reached at

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