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Will's Place Celebrates Two Years Of Helping Kids Deal With Trau - KOAM TV 7

Will's Place Celebrates Two Years Of Helping Kids Deal With Trauma

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Will's Place in Joplin opened two years ago this week as a place for families to bring children to help deal with trauma. It was named after Will Norton, a teen who lost his life in the Joplin tornado, Will's Place now offers more than 60-services to area kids. 

"The storms didn't bug me, but now they bug because I had the tornado and I thought about it, and I think about it when I go to sleep and I just get scared."
 
Krista Cheatham is like many children who weathered the Joplin tornado. Her family was at home when it happened, her home needed to be rebuilt. Everyone was safe, but with so much destruction, any future storms were tough.

"You could see it in Krista's eyes, the fear, and it almost became and it almost became if the wind was blowing, she almost immediately went into the storm shelter," said Krista's father Paul Cheatham.
 
Which is why Cheatham and his wife decided to bring Krista to Will's Place. Created after the tornado to help kids like Krista deal with post tornado trauma, as well as other behavioral problems through therapy, case management, psychological testing and much more all under one roof.  

"Prior to the tornado we knew that statistically the number of children we saw that had experiences trauma was high, after the tornado, you know, you can almost make a blanket statement that everybody in Joplin and his community has experienced trauma," said Will's Place Clinical Director Melissa Smith.
 
The year before the tornado the Ozark Center helped 2,500 kids a year, now Will's Place helps 4,000 a year. Krista has been in therapy to help her deal with her stress for the past year, and she says she's learned a lot of tricks thanks to Will's Place to feel safer during storm season, something as simple as a slinky.

"You kind of grab the end really lightly and then push your hands up and down really slowly," Krista said.

She says getting her mind off of the storm by focusing on something else helps. All thanks to Will's Place.

"It's actually helping me feel better about storms and other things," Krista said. 

Will's Place serves children in Jasper, Newton, Barton and McDonald Counties. 
To visit Will's Place' website, click here.
To visit the Will's Place Facebook page, click here

 

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