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Constructing Peace: Helping Youth Cope in the Aftermath of 9/11

This paper presents the work of NYC RECOVERS to support youth in the aftermath of 9/11.

AUTHORS: Lourdes J. Hernández-Cordero, DrPH, Mindy Thompson Fullilove, MD

PUBLICATION: American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 2008


The 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York City represented a new strain on already fractured communities with low collective efficacy. Like the majority of citizens in the greater metropolitan area, researchers at the Community Research Group of Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health wanted to “do” something to help in the aftermath of the attacks. The group proposed to promote collective recovery, that is, rebuilding social connections in the city as the foundation for individual and group recovery. After several months of organizing, New York City RECOVERS (NYCR)—a network of organizations formed to promote trauma recovery post 9/11—in conjunction with the New York University’s International Trauma Studies Program, persuaded the New York City Department of Health and Mental Health and the FEMA-funded Project Liberty to sponsor a conference on collective recovery, with a focus on the first anniversary of the tragedy. Utilizing participant observation, the research team documented the outreach and dissemination efforts of NYCR, the partners’ organizational engagement in collective recovery, and the recovery activities they pursued.

This paper describes the work of the conference and the specific efforts for youth violence prevention that followed. In this circumstance, engaging community partners helped shift the research agenda from one driven by funders and researchers to one co-driven by the organizations and populations they aimed to influence.

Constructing peace
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