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What Happened to You? and What Happened to Me?

 

                                                 

Last spring, I attended a virtual book discussion of Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Bruce Perry's book "What Happened to You?".  It was while we (or at least I) were still pretty locked down with the pandemic.  I was working from home, living alone, seeing family but only seeing friends and colleagues virtually.  The event hosted by Dax Shephard and Kristin Bell inspired me to read the book.  It also inspired me to bring the book to our Georgia communities. I knew that I was not the only person struggling emotionally with the effects of the pandemic.  I knew that I was not the only one with a history of family strife, addiction, mental illness and suicide which impacted how I related with others, impacted my resilience, impacted my career and my physical health.  Reading this book was important to me and I knew it would be important to others.  So, an idea was born!

I reached out to my professional partner, Jennifer Stein, at Prevent Child Abuse Georgia and broached the idea of having a statewide book club where everyone in our state read the book and learned about trauma, healing, resilience and overcoming adversity.  She was on board and we asked several more providers that we worked with and everyone else was on board, as well.  And so, Georgia Reads came to be!

Through a friend who worked for Gwinnett County Public Libraries, I asked if the library system might want to partner with us on this.  We met with Denise Auger, the Adult Services Manager at Gwinnett County Public Libraries and she was as excited about this concept as we were.  Denise and her team helped us set a schedule for an author event and also a launch event for our prevention partners to showcase their programs and promote the Georgia Reads Initiative.  They also assisted by hosting book clubs themselves in their local branches.  We are so appreciative of the partnership of Denise and the GCPL!

The team worked together to develop a Book Club Discussion Guide to be used in communities throughout our state.  The guide contained not only discussion questions about the book but offered resources available in Georgia to learn more about the chapter's topics or where to go for help, if needed.  Once we launched the Georgia Reads:  What Happened to You? landing page, we received requests from over 50 groups or individuals who wanted to read the book and host a book club.

Not only did we have Georgians host book clubs using our guide but our Parent Advisory Council also held a several weeks-long book club with the assistance of Chloe Corrion and Kara Giorgi of the Children's Trust Fund Alliance.  They developed their own beautiful discussion guide which included coloring pages, inspirational quotes, lessons about the Strengthening Families Five Protective Factors and so much more!  The GA - PAC members met weekly for many weeks, openly discussing which parts of the book resonated with them, sharing their own opportunities for healing and resilience as staff shared theirs.  There were tears, belly laughs, a-ha moments, and offering of comfort shared among the PAC members and staff.  And the piece-de-resistance - Oprah came on the final evening!  She spent more than an hour talking with the parents about the book and their reactions to the book.

In January, on the evening of the Georgia-Alabama National Championship Football Game (Go,Dawgs!!), Dr. Bruce Perry came for the author event.  He spent an hour and a half with us, moderated by Dr. Melissa Merrick, the Executive Director of Prevent Child Abuse America, despite the kickoff happening halfway through.  Hundreds of Georgians participated and stayed until the very end to hear Dr. Perry's thoughts on how we could use the lessons learned in the book to provide healing for ourselves, our families, and our communities.

The vision I had for spreading the messages of hope, healing, and resilience throughout our state has been met and exceeded.  And now it's being spread even wider!  PACES Connection learned about our little Georgia Reads Initiative and they are bringing it national!  Dr. Perry held an author event last month with PACES Connection and next week, July 13, we have a webinar scheduled for you to be able to learn how to bring either of these book club discussion guides (or both, like we did!) to your communities.  The following events are scheduled throughout July or August.

Download the flyer for links to register or learn more about these events.

I have learned so much about myself, my family members, my relationships and most importantly my resilience through reading and discussing this book.  I hope you will do the same.



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Good Day, Dr. Shamblin,

I hope you are well and apologize for the delayed response.

I am the Strengthening Families GA (SFG) Program Coordinator.

Enclosed is a Strengthening Families GA Primer for Parents. A brief description is provided for each of the Five Protective Factors.

Please do not hesitate to contact me should you require additional assistance.

I can be reached at sfg@gsu.edu or stillman@gsu.edu

Thank you and enjoy your day and week!

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