New Orleans' Youngest Citizens May Experience Re-Entry Challenges

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Operation REACH Inc, a youth advocacy organization, makes issue of youth post-disaster anxieties a main priority during the recovery of the gulf coast region.

While Katrina and Gustav are not comparable in the impact on our community, there is a troubling anxiety associated with active hurricane seasons. Children have fewer resources to help them cope with these situations and these limitations are both internal and external concerning children

As New Orleans repopulates this week, a youth-focused organization is working to ensure that children have an opportunity to debrief their experiences. Many youth may experience anxieties and other signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder following the traumatic evacuation to escape Hurricane Gustav. This weather threat also may have stirred up nightmarish memories of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans exactly three years ago.

"While Katrina and Gustav are not comparable in the impact on our community, there is a troubling anxiety associated with active hurricane seasons. Children have fewer resources to help them cope with these situations and these limitations are both internal and external concerning children," said Dr. Kyshun Webster, Sr. earlier today upon his return to the city. Dr. Webster is the CEO and Founder of Operation REACH, Inc.

Gulfsouth Youth Action Corps members will hit the ground in New Orleans, beginning Monday, September 8, 2008, to provide tutoring, mentoring and youth leadership opportunities for youth in the Greater New Orleans area.

Operation REACH, Inc. created the Gulfsouth Youth Action Corps following Hurricane Katrina to restore youth programs and ensure youth had an opportunity to address the ordeal they experienced related to the disaster. Because of the success of its work with youth following Hurricane Katrina, Operation REACH has been cited as a model program and the Gulfsouth Youth Action Corps has been tapped for national expansion by the Corporation for National and Community Service which has provided significant funding to bring the program to children in other cities.

Research shows that young people need to chart a course of meaningful action in their communities following a disaster like a hurricane. The Gulfsouth Youth Action Corps engages college-age young adults alongside professional educators and counselors to engage, empower, and inspire youth in the ongoing recovery of the region. Through the Gulfsouth Youth Action Corps, youth have engaged in a variety of community service projects and developed a youth philanthropy initiative that focuses on directing resources to youth-led, youth-driven efforts focused on the rebuilding. Gulfsouth Youth Corps members support youth leadership in communities from Houston to Atlanta.

Operation REACH, Inc. staff members are available for interviews and to discuss the experiences of youth following natural disasters. Media inquiries should be directed to Karin Hopkins at 205.335.4014 or kghopkins@bellsouth.net. For additional information on the Gulfsouth Youth Action Corps, visit the website at http://www.thegyac.org.

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Karin Hopkins
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