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04 Feb 23 132 0 0

Roca, the Chelsea nonprofit working to prevent violence, gets a royal visit

Cool Story - Roca, the Chelsea nonprofit working to prevent violence, gets a royal visit

Prince William and Princess Kate, members of the British royal family, are in Boston this week for the Earth shot Prize, which awards million-dollar scholarships to those working in environmental activism and critical work. The Royals will stop by Roca, a Chelsea-based organization that seeks to combat teen violence, racism, and poverty. Co-hosts Paris Alston and Jeremy Siegel of GBH's Morning Edition were joined by Molly Baldwin, founder, and CEO of Roca, to discuss the upcoming trip. Light editing has been done to this transcript.

Paris Alston: To start, for those who may not be familiar, tell us a little bit about Roca and the work that you do there before we move on to the royal visit.

Molly Baldwin: The goal of Roca is to relentlessly disrupt racism, poverty, and incarceration by forming relationships with young adults, police, and the structures responsible for urban violence to confront trauma, discover hope and bring about change. We work with young mothers and 1,500 young men in Massachusetts, Baltimore, Maryland, and Hartford, Connecticut. We specifically work with a group of young people who are involved in violent and criminal activity and who are not yet ready, willing, or able to participate in another program or go to a job. They won't work for money. However, we are aware that kids can adapt and acquire the necessary abilities to become the amazing young people they aspire to be.

Our model is based on identifying those young people, frequently with the assistance of police and other system partners; going to meet them, and knocking on as many doors as necessary to do so. This is because they aren't ready to come to the program and say, "Hey, I'm here, let's go, let's get some help." We cultivate enduring connections with them to foster trust, and we impart to them skills that could save their lives, particularly in the area of behavioral health. We've transformed cognitive behavioral therapy into a cognitive behavior theory-based strategy, essentially teaching young men and women how to control their emotions.

And our main goal is to show them that their thoughts, feelings, and deeds are three distinct entities. And if they can learn to wait for 8 to 12 seconds before acting on what they think and feel, they will have more agency and options. We now know that trauma alters brain chemistry and keeps people in a reactive mode. We also think that by treating the trauma, you may set the person free. They can heal from their trauma and become freer as a result of the process of safety, and relationships, gaining emotional regulation skills and learning about work, education, and motherhood.

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