Southlake — Community members hope to help children become more resilient to crises by introducing the Unity Project in CISD schools next year.The Friends of the Unity Project and Students and Parents Against Risks to our Kids (S.P.A.R.K.) invited Dr. John Woodall, creator of the Unity Project, to meet with city leaders and school trustees last week.Nadia Moayyad, a member of the Southlake based Friends of the Unity Project, said she believes a proactive program can help children cope better in the aftermath of a crisis.In the last year, Southlake students have witnessed the traumatic loss of friends, including the drug overdoses of several students and a fatal plane crash that killed two brothers, their father and an uncle.Woodall spoke about the Unity Project’s impact on his hometown of Newtown, Conn. after last year’s mass-casualty school shooting.“He talked about how his offering, his expertise, helped people,” she said.Through after-school programs and student-led service projects, the Unity Project aims to build resilience and leadership.“The kids are not seen as victims or as mental causalities or survivors,” he said about the participants in Newtown. “These kids, because of what happened, are going to be role models of resilience, compassion and service, and demonstrate that through numerous factors.”Woodall said the project, aimed at pre-teen and older students, start by improving school-life, such as changing the lunch menu or creating anti-bullying campaigns, and expand to aid the community.Moayyad said the Southlake community met Woodall when an organization invited him to speak in 2008. After hearing about the Unity Project, she and other community members began working to start the program in Southlake.Woodall said that while it could be easier to introduce the program outside of the school district, he advised Moayyad to work with the district.“To have success it needs the involvement and collaboration with the different institutions,” Moayyad said, including the district and City Council.Laura Hill, a city councilwoman and the founder of S.P.A.R.K., said the community’s numerous service-based organizations will need to get involved to help guide the youth.“Realistically it’s going to have to be an after-school program that is sponsored by some of the key groups in the community,” she said.Woodall said Southlake is prime for the Unity Project.“Southlake already has great academic skills. Match that with a set of human skills and the value of that is way more,” he said.
Dustin L. Dangli, 817-390-7770