Small Things to Make Kids Feel Welcome

We all understand how difficult it can be to be brought to a new place, especially for a child. For some time now we have been following a simple practice that has helped make the boys in our care feel less alienated and has helped ease their transition into our on-site program.

Gina Aiello and Latreace Laack With a Welcome Bag

Each boy gets a “welcome bag” upon intake. Within the bag is a blanket, a deck of cards, a hand-held game, and some type of “fidget,” which is a small thing they can fidget with to help them regulate their emotions. Some of the bags include MP3 players.

We try to customize the contents to the best of our ability after having a conversation with the child regarding his interests, abilities and preferences. The goal of the bag is to create a trusting environment where a child can feel safe and begin to form relationships, which we find are a key component to the success of a child within our program. The contents incorporate sensory integration as well as rhythmic and repetitive activities, which are in keeping with our use of trauma informed care.

We have been surprised at how many great artists have been placed at SaintA. And we never would have found out about them unless we had a conversation with them regarding their welcome bag. Several of the residents come to SaintA with nothing, and these welcome bags have put a smile on their faces and made them feel a little more comfortable with their transition.

And their smiles make us smile!


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