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Healing kids in NYC — and around the world

China, Haiti, Japan, Libya, United States, September 9, 2011

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Linda Mason

The Huffington Post
September, 2011

It is difficult to imagine anything good resulting from the senseless and devastating September 11th terrorist attacks. But in the days and weeks after 9/11, I witnessed something positive and incredible: people coming together to heal the emotional wounds of kids in New York City, and taking that healing to kids around the world.

I'm the co-founder of a company called Bright Horizons Family Solutions, which runs childcare and early education centers at workplaces across the United States. In the hours after the 9/11 attacks, my attention focused on our downtown Manhattan center in the JPMorgan Chase & Co. building -- just one block from Ground Zero. Children and caregivers anxiously awaited the return of parents, many of whom worked in the World Trade Center, and the center became a makeshift support area for shocked survivors.

Amazingly, none of our parents were lost but the anxiety and trauma were tremendous for everyone. One preschooler summed it up: he looked out at the massive destruction, and asked, "What happened to our world?"...

...9/11 was just the beginning for Comfort for Kids. The program was so successful that Mercy Corps subsequently implemented it -- often in partnership with Bright Horizons -- in a range of disaster zones like post-Katrina New Orleans, the war-battered Gaza Strip, and earthquake-rattled areas of China, Haiti, Peru, Chile and Japan. Later this month, Mercy Corps will bring Comfort for Kids to parents and kids in the conflict-torn Libyan city of Misrata.