Midland City Hostage Situation Students Gets Federal Grant

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Twenty students had their lives forever changed by Jimmy Lee Dykes, the man who stepped on a school bus and fatally shot school bus driver Charles Poland and took a six year old boy.

But despite tragedy, the Child Advocacy Center in Dothan has programs in place to help cope.

"We decided we would set up programs of counseling and groups in the schools and we met with the school personnel to get it started so about a week after that we were contacted but the office of Victims of Crime in Washington about writing a grant," said Sherryl Walker, executive director of the Southeast Alabama Child Advocacy Center in Dothan.

And writing a grant literally paid off.

"It is an 18 month grant so what we will be able to do is it will help pay for some of the expenses we have already incurred but it will also allow us to provide counseling and groups and support and training to the first responders and school personnel about how to react in these situations and also it is really important for people to understand the affects of trauma on children," said Walker.

Some of the students on the bus are having a hard time coping either they cant ride a school bus anymore or they are having flashbacks of of the event but the CAC is trying to change that.

"One child I am familiar with, she was having a hard time sleeping at night and through therapy she was able to change her thought matters and realize that was a one time thing and was able to implement some of the things we have taught her and she has been able to sleep by herself and smile," said Walker.

A smile that Walker says validates why these therapy sessions are needed..

The grant is targeting specifically the 20 children on the bus at that time, school personnel, and first responders of the hostage situation.

The funding for the program lasts until July of 2014.

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