February 15, 2019

Helping Colorado schools build resilience after trauma

Local program expands nationally through 2019.

DENVER — Every day, teachers interact with children who experience traumatic life events ranging from abuse and neglect to a natural disaster or the death of someone close. The effects of others’ trauma can negatively impact work and home life. To help improve the well-being of Colorado teachers, Kaiser Permanente is launching a locally-developed mental health and wellness program — the Resilience in School Environments Understanding and Practice (RISE UP) — in schools across the state.

RISE UP is a complementary learning session for school staff, administrators, and teachers, designed to foster resilience and support school staff as they work with traumatized students. The program helps school staff members develop systems to take care of themselves and support their own wellness.

“Kaiser Permanente has long recognized the need to care for the mental and physical health of students, staff, and teachers in the communities we serve,” said Curtis Robbins, Kaiser Permanente lead for community health, and RISE UP program architect. “Through RISE UP, we’re providing staff and teachers with the resources they need to foster a positive school climate that embraces trauma-sensitive interactions to make for better and safer learning environments for all students.”

RISE UP is a 2-hour session facilitated by Kaiser Permanente that uses theatre and interactive learning to engage participants in discovery and practical application. It is designed to provide a safe place to practice, question, discover, and learn through discussion, peer interaction, and self-reflection.

RISE UP participants are encouraged to reflect on the importance of building stronger relationships with all students — particularly those who’ve experienced trauma — while learning resiliency and other skills that can be used in student interactions. Staff and teachers are asked to draw on real-life situations to adapt their resiliency techniques to better meet the needs of their students.

“By using these real-life examples, we hope to help teachers and staff see what they did right and where they can improve not just for the sake of their students, but for themselves and their colleagues, too,” said Robbins.

The program, which is blossoming out of an initial pilot phase from 2018, has seen impressive results with educators and administrators. A survey was given to teachers and school staff at the 4 participating school districts during the pilot phase. Highlights from the survey include:

  • 84 percent of participants reported that they learned how to develop stronger relationship with students
  • 84 percent of participants reported feeling confident in their ability to develop stronger relationships with students who have experienced trauma
  • 78 percent of participants indicated they felt more connected to their colleagues after the session

The positive impact RISE UP is having in local Colorado schools is one reason Kaiser Permanente is expanding the program nationally throughout 2019. Kaiser Permanente RISE UP workshops will also be offered in Washington, Oregon, Hawaii, Georgia, Northern California, Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. RISE UP is part of Kaiser Permanente’s national Thriving Schools work, which promotes the health of young people by helping them establish lifelong patterns of healthy behavior.

The following Colorado schools will participate in the RISE UP project in the early 2019 school year:

  • Prospect Ridge Academy, Broomfield, Colorado
  • Upper Blue Elementary/Breckenridge Elementary, Breckenridge, Colorado
  • Silverthorne Elementary, Silverthorne, Colorado

About Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve more than 12.2 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. 


Nick Roper
303-344-7619, 303-905-7451 (mobile)