Besides statistical data collected for the recent Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation survey, 369 respondents provided narrative feedback. Many reiterated the importance of one of the priority services listed.
This was especially true for the importance of short- and long-term mental health support as well as preventative mental health services to promote a culture of kindness and caring as well as early detection of mental health issues.
The need for more programming for youth was another area frequently mentioned in the comments. This included the need for other positive opportunities for young people who are not interested in sports or arts.
Summary feedback was also included from individual and small group meetings throughout the community. Among the top concerns from attendees to those meetings were:
*Children who survived in the two impacted classrooms, as well as siblings, parents, children, and other family members of children and adults killed have mental health and wellness needs that are lifelong and significant in terms of financial expense.
*There remains some stigma barriers with police, fire, and ambulance corps members who may be reluctant to receive mental health assistance or do not want to have anything on record that indicates they have sought treatment. There is confusion and lack of clear communication about resources available to assist individuals.
*Many of the families of children who were in the school feel like they have been forgotten as survivors/witnesses. Many children who were in classrooms in the immediate vicinity were deeply traumatized. These families, along with the victims and surviving children, are struggling with significant family disruption, increased expenses and decreased income for some who needed to take time from work to be with their children.
*Parents and community members are concerned about those who have yet to receive any professional support or assistance and do not necessarily recognize their own trauma, anger, anxiety, etc, and how it impacts their children, family members, and the rest of the community.
Survey respondents also suggested several ways to spend foundation funds, including providing:
*Access to more mind/body activities (outdoor activities, yoga, wellness programs) that promote “centering” and healing;
*Additional assistance and support to the victims and witnesses;
*Additional school security measures;
*Extra support and assistance to teachers and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School including professional development and training in recognizing and managing mental health issues that arise in school;
*Funds and other assistance for first responders (police, fire, ambulance);
*Funds to purchase and tear down the Lanza home and turn the property into a park or nature preserve;
*Opportunities and programs that bring the entire community together;
*Reserving funds for long-term needs;
*Scholarships for college for students present at the school and siblings of victims; and
*Workshops, seminars, trainings, retreats, etc, focusing on helping understand trauma, managing reactions, learning healthy coping strategies, learning from others who have been through similar traumas.