News of the catastrophic 2010 Haiti Earthquake hit the Canarsie community hard. A historically and culturally rich neighborhood in southeast Brooklyn, Canarsie’s population includes many students whose immediate family members live in Haiti. While adult community members held close together, continuously keeping in touch with updates as to the status of family and friends in their stricken homeland, the children went to school as planned.
School buildings quickly became overwhelmed with students in deep distress. In response to the crisis and ensuing turmoil among the student populations, teams of CIS counselors were deployed to over 18 schools, including Canarsie High School. Counselors worked with groups of students, providing them with a safe space to process this incredible tragedy, help them cope with their stress, understand their grief and express their pain. As CIS Counselors laid the foundation for a supportive, trusting environment, the students themselves began to initiate group sessions, where they could share their feelings and be supported by their peers. As stories of life, loss and survival filtered through Canarsie High School, a sense of solidarity and deep connection arose, and out of this crisis emerged a stronger community of students whose resilience was being tested and proven.