More health resources available to students and families one week after fatal CVPA/CMSB shooting

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) – A week after students, staff and families were rocked by deadly gunfire inside their campus, Central Visual and Performing Arts and Collegiate School of Medicine and Biosciences high schools remain closed.

“A campus, which is a sanctuary for our healers, artists, scientists and creatives, has been hit by an outbreak of gunshot wounds. We think this area should lose its mind, move heaven and earth for whatever these kids need,” said LJ Punch.

Punch is the Executive Director and Founder of The T, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides education and resources to help communities heal from gunshot wound trauma. The organization is now working in conjunction with St. Louis Public Schools to continue offering resources to help families and students affected by last week’s shooting deal with their grief and trauma.

“The reason we opened our space, even before it was fully ready to open, was that we wanted to create a new safe haven, a new sanctuary for children when they are displaced from their schools. right now,” Punch said.

This week, the district is hosting in-person councils for all students from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at T-Hive, the organization’s new location inside the Delmar Divine Building in North City. Counseling staff will be made available for one-on-one service with anyone in the St. Louis Public Schools community seeking assistance. Students can also gather in this space to talk together about their trauma or just hang out.

News 4 saw a handful of students using the space on Monday. Some of them worked on creating artwork, while others described what it was like to be inside the school when the shooting happened.

“Right now everyone who wanted to be seen is seen, and I think there’s tremendous flexibility because of working with all of these community partners, [which include] Places for People, The Mental Health Board,” Punch said. “All these people are flocking to make sure the staff is appropriate.”

Additional events will be held at this location for people to come together and process trauma, including a pumpkin decorating contest, which took place today from 5-7 p.m., boxing classes throughout Tuesday and an open mic night on Friday.

“Families are invited. We also want parents, not just children. And if there’s still a younger one who wants to come through, we’ll be there all day,” Punch said. “And listen, if we get out of this space, we have other rooms in this building that we’re already booking so we can build and build… whatever it takes to meet the need.”

Regarding what the future holds for students and families within the CVPA and CSMB community, an SLPS spokesperson said the district should know by the end of the week when students will resume their courses on campus. They are also working with the US Department of Education on a longer-term plan for counseling and support services for students and staff who were in the buildings when the shooting happened.

A full link to bereavement resources can be found on The T STL website as well as the SLPS website.

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