ATLANTA — A team of Mercer students and faculty, funded by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, will travel to Haiti on Monday to train teachers and pastors through a series of courses aimed at combating psychological trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder and preparing schools for future disasters. The courses will help victims of the Jan. 12 earthquake that devastated the country, killing more than 300,000 people and injuring thousands more.
The CBF has funded a $30,000 grant to the Department of Counseling and Human Sciences in Mercer’s College of Continuing and Professional Studies to develop and implement training programs for Haitians. The Mercer team is led by Dr. David Lane, counseling program coordinator and professor of counseling, and Dr. Kenyon Knapp, assistant dean for graduate programs and associate professor of counseling. The team will also include three Mercerians of Haitian descent, two from Atlanta: Bloodine Bobb-Semple, an incoming counseling Ph.D. student whose parents are Haitian, Rose Donatien, a Haitian native and 2010 human services graduate, and a student from Mercer’s Macon campus, Olivier Clermont, a Master of Public Health student and Haitian native who will serve as a translator.
“It’s an honor to do a project of this scope, with the potential to impact this many lives,” Dr. Lane said. “We’re eternally grateful to the CBF and Mercer On Mission for helping us to do it.”
The group will fly from Atlanta to Fort Lauderdale Monday night, then fly to Port-au-Prince on Tuesday, and make its return to Atlanta via Miami on July 25. In Haiti, on July 14 the group will teach 120 pastors from the Haitian Baptist Convention to lead their congregations through small-group sessions to help them cope with less severe cases of psychological trauma. The pastors will also learn to spot post-traumatic stress disorder cases and how to refer the sufferers for help. On July 19, the team will travel to Jeremie for a conference of teachers, where they will train 150 teachers from four of Haiti’s western provinces in ways to develop and implement disaster plans for their schools. Then, July 20-24, the teams will hold a series of courses for another group of teachers to train them as trainers. The group will learn how to train their peers to lead activities in their classrooms to help students deal with “nonclinical” levels of psychological trauma and to learn the signs of PTSD and how to refer those students to clinicians. Dr. Lane expects those 120 teachers to train another 3,000.
In May, Dr. Lane and Reid Doster, a CBF representative, visited Haiti to assess the needs in the area. The two began with a goal of 15 trainees, but soon were engaged in partnerships to train many hundreds more. After Dr. Lane returned from the assessment trip, he and Dr. Knapp developed curricula for each training course and for the new trainers to implement, Dr. Knapp said. The Mercer team will help to do that beginning Monday. The team will also return in October to train two more Haitian groups in similar fashion and will travel to Haiti again in January for follow-ups and assessments, Dr. Lane said.
In March, University Minister and Dean of the Chapel Craig McMahan, who coordinates the Mercer On Mission program, traveled to Haiti with CBF officials to lay the groundwork for two Mercer delegations – this trip and a group that is providing Mercer-designed prosthetics to the team. The prosthetics group will also return in the fall, Dr. McMahan said.
About the College of Continuing and Professional Studies
The College offers degree programs and lifelong learning opportunities for adults who seek leadership roles in their communities and beyond, professional transition and advancement, and lives that have meaning and purpose. The College offers undergraduate degree programs in organizational leadership, human resources administration and development, public safety, liberal studies (individualized), and human services, and graduate programs in counseling, school counseling, and public safety leadership. Its programs are offered on Mercer’s Macon and Atlanta campuses, at the University’s regional academic centers in Henry County, Douglas County and Eastman. Pending SACS approval, the College will begin offering programs this fall in Newnan.
About Mercer University
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University enrolls more than 8,000 students in 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies – on major campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah and at three regional academic centers across the state. Mercer is affiliated with two teaching hospitals — Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah and the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, and has educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta. The University operates an academic press and a performing arts center in Macon and an engineering research center in Warner Robins. Mercer is the only private university in Georgia to field an NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit www.mercer.edu.
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