#HarveyHeroes: Sheltering Harbour

More than a year after one of the worst hurricanes to ravage Texas hit our coastline, it’s easy to assume recovery efforts have mostly addressed the needs of Texas’ Gulf Coast and Houston area communities. But the need is still there, and the effects of Hurricane Harvey will be felt for years or a lifetime. 

This is especially true for at-risk children and those in the state’s foster care system, who have already endured substantial trauma in their life. For Sheltering Harbour, one of The Center’s Healing from Harvey Rebuild Texas Fund grantees, the funds were a true blessing for the organization’s efforts to help young people heal from the trauma of abuse and what Harvey inflicted on them personally and the larger community. 

Residents of Sheltering Harbour are typically admitted because they are more challenging to place in foster care. Many are older. All residents attend Klein Independent School District (KISD), one of the higher rated districts in the region. Sheltering Harbour’s programming formed the basis of KISD’s larger Therapeutic Education Program (TEP). 

The organization’s reach and impact is extensive, but when Harvey hit, Sheltering Harbour turned to the local community and later the Texas Center for Child and Family Studies’ Healing from Harvey program to help get back on their feet, continue and expand upon their in-district and in-facility therapies.

Sheltering Harbour is using their grant to expand upon a proven program that’s helped young girls address their past trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder and ongoing anxiety. 

Diana Day is a registered RYT500 certified yoga instructor, specializing in teen yoga and meditation. Before the hurricane hit, she was already developing and expanding the program to include art, gardening, general exercise and hygiene—taking a whole child approach to her work with girls at Sheltering Harbour.

Day’s yoga-based program includes a 15-minute module on yoga and meditation, intended to provide short and long-term support for managing girls’ PTSD and anxiety. When the module is done properly, the yoga and meditation can impact blood pressure, increase serotonin levels and help foster a feeling of calm. Each Sheltering Harbor resident attends art enrichment, two yoga classes, a PTSD counseling class and three enrichment classes each week. 

The organization’s yoga program is reaching more children thanks in large part to the Healing from Harvey grant, and the positive outcomes are incredibly encouraging. 

Take one girl, who entered Sheltering Harbour after her mom died from a drug overdose. This young girl felt like her mother’s death was her fault, but the Sheltering Harbour program helped to quiet her mind, relax and clear her thoughts. She said the yoga PTSD program really helped to stabilize her, “I feel like no one cares about me; so, I just finished meditating. Thank you, Miss Day.” The program is also helping open up doors to future careers for these Sheltering Harbour residents, as they look to use what they’ve learned to impact and support others in need.

Since the yoga program began in 2016, Sheltering Harbour has seen an improvement in its successful discharge rate—now at around 50 percent. 

Namaste, Sheltering Harbour. And, thank you for being a Harvey Hero to so many young women in the Houston area.