Finding hope for children who suffer traumas

Children receiving treatment at La Rabida’s Chicago Child Trauma Center have often seen and experienced unspeakable acts. But while these children may not always be ready to talk about what they’ve witnessed, they’re surrounded by the images of those who have not only survived similar tragedies, but want to speak about it to other survivors.

The Survivors Wall, erected in April 2008, currently features 12 people who have survived trauma, including Maya Angelou and Oprah Winfrey. The wall tells their stories and offers hope and encouragement to children and their families.

“It’s a way of saying (to the children) that you are just like this person,” says Brad Stolbach, program director at the Trauma Center."These things happen to all sorts of people and you shouldn’t feel that there’s something wrong with you, that you’re isolated, that you’re alone.”

The Trauma Center, which serves between 400 and 500 children each year in the Chicago area, treats children who have experienced at least one type of traumatic stress. This can include sexual abuse, physical abuse and witnessing homicides, Stolbach says.

Stolbach and his staff worked for several years to reach out to those who survived trauma for the Survivor Wall. Not all the survivors are celebrities, some are ordinary people who have overcome their childhood traumas to live life as healthy, productive adults.

“This is a way to create a comfortable place for the families that we serve and to give them hope to know that there’s an end, they’re going to come out of this eventually,” Stolbach says.

For more information about the Survivor Wall or the Child Trauma Center, contact Stolbach at or call (773) 374-3748 ext. 2231.

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