Environment matters. Children absorb so much from their surroundings, as do adults. Multiple studies show that the environment you are raised in, and subsequently raise your children in, has a lifetime impact. Interestingly enough, the environment we create for ourselves impacts more than we might think. For example, at Heroes on the Water, we have long recognized the intergenerational transmission of trauma to a family, whether from combat or the daily rigors of a first responder’s job. Fortunately, there are ways to positively impact families so that everyone can begin to heal.
Transmitting Resilience Starts at Home
Children are like sponges and easily absorb their environment. Adults do as well and have the propensity to understand there are negative influences in their situation. When an adult experiences trauma, however, the reactions can be beyond their ability to understand the impact to reactions and their own environment. The trauma can have happened at any point in their life, and left without a means to address it, can negatively influence the person and those around them.
Trauma that remains unprocessed influences reactions, behavior, and impacts relationships. This is a subconscious transmission and can therefore go unchecked. Fortunately, there are ways to overcome transmission of trauma and form an environment that transmits wellness.
According to an article in Psychology Today, “trauma survivors and their descendants can help to reduce the impact of generational trauma on future generations. Just as traumatic experiences can be passed down from one generation to the next, so can the capacity for overcoming the trauma and building resilience.”
It starts with the ability to address one’s own trauma response, and then recognize how to focus on their relationships to address it there as well. There are multiple methods to help someone address trauma related responses and help turn them into a more positive reaction. The Heroes on the Water programs utilize the outdoors through kayak fishing to provide that method to turn around trauma related responses. And it is a simple, easy to access methodology.
Kayak Fishing for Transmission of Wellness
Heroes on the Water provides no-cost kayak fishing experiences to veterans, first responders and their families. A core belief is the importance of healing the family as well as the hero. By ensuring a wellness experience for everyone, the HOW programs disrupt the transmission of trauma and help our participants move toward an intergenerational transmission of wellness.
Building and improving relationships is one of the many outcomes Heroes on the Water discovered through the completion of our recent study. The study was conducted on participants in our Therapeutic Program by our Research Coordinator, Shelby Jackson, PhD. It was peer-reviewed, utilizing a testing tool developed by Dr. Jackson, and focused on three areas – stress management, self-efficacy, and relationships.
Relationships were included as we realize the importance of improving relationships on the overall wellness of our participants. The results are very encouraging, as we focus on improving the lives of veterans, first responders and their families.
Study will be published in full later in 2023.
Strengthening relationships with friends and family while also focusing on improved individual mental and physical wellbeing will, over time, create a stronger, more positive environment for everyone. Change takes time. Fortunately, utilizing kayak fishing and the outdoors as a modality to support that change is a healthy, easy way to maintain good health and create positive interactions with family.
At Heroes on the Water, our focus is to ensure that our heroes have a space and place to focus on their wellness journey. If you want to positively impact heroes and their families by providing a way to improve wellness, join The Honor Circle. Become part of a community that believes in honoring our heroes for their service, using mother nature to heal and to provide continuous improvement to the lives of so many who give so much to protect our borders and maintain the peace.
** Presented at:
Jackson, S. & Winston, Joe. (2023, February). Operation Early Impact. [Conference presentation]. Texas Recreation and Parks Society-TR Tuesday, In-Person Conference.
Jackson, S. & Winston, Joe. (2022, November). Operation Early Impact. [Conference presentation]. Therapeutic Recreation Symposium of the Southwest, In-Person Conference.
Additional references available upon request.