This morning at City Hall, Mayor Brandon Scott and other public officials held a press conference to talk about the implementation of the Elijah Cummings Healing City Act. OSI is collaborating with the city and providing substantial funding for Healing City Baltimore, which aims to unearth and reverse the causes of trauma in our city by helping government proactively support the health of children and families, confront injustice, and prevent violence.
First District Councilman Zeke Cohen, who has spearheaded the effort and introduced the legislation, noted that when the City Council passed the bill, “Baltimore became the first city to embrace trauma-informed care through legislation.”
“The trauma that we see in our schools, neighborhoods, and homes is unparalleled,” he said, noting that three students at his district’s Patterson High School were gunned down in a month in 2020. “We need a city government that operates with empathy, acknowledges the harm that so many residents experience, and works every day to heal the people we serve.”
Cohen mentioned the many current and future partners in the work of bringing trauma-informed care to the region, including city and state officials, community-based organizations like Baltimore Ceasefire, and business and philanthropic partners, and mentioned the recently announced B’more Invested initiative, led by OSI and Baltimore’s Promise.
“Now is the time for government to unite with our businesses, nonprofits, and foundations, unite with organizations like Bmore Invested campaign, who are working to upend traditional philanthropy and bring sustained investment to organizations that have been left behind,” he said.
During the initial phase of Healing City Baltimore, the Health Department will train all city employees, including City Council members, in trauma-informed care, and all city agencies will begin a review of all training and policies to integrate trauma-informed care. Cohen thanked Mayor Scott for embracing the effort, noting, “We finally have a mayor who understands that we cannot arrest our way out if this problem, that mass incarceration fueled the misery and carnage that is killing our communities.”
Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa, City Council President Nick Mosby, Delegate Robbyn Lewis, Dr. Melissa Buckley from Coppin State University, and youth activist Anaya Taylor, who led George Floyd protests in Baltimore this summer, also spoke at the conference.
“I live and relive trauma every day,” Taylor said, comparing the trauma that young people face in the city to a roller coaster ride, one than many often don’t realize they are on. “It’s important to recognize that healing is a virtue, a virtue that I’m excited to take a step toward today.