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Caddo Juvenile Court Adds Calming Studio For Youth

Courtesy: Chuck Smith / Red River Radio News

REDUCING STRESS - Children who go through the  Juvenile Court System  for  Foster care services often have to wait in the hallway outside the courtroom and potentially rehear and relive the  trauma  of  their experiences.  Caddo  Parish  Juvenile  Court is doing something new to lessen the stress. This week a Calming Studio was unveiled to the public, it’s a  special  room  set aside  at the Caddo Juvenile Court… it has colorful lights, projected interactive games and images along with calming sounds.   During a noisy press tour,  Lucinda Miles, a Trust-Based Relational Intervention  Practitioner  with  Volunteers for Youth Justice  explained more about the room. 

"We are very aware that when children come back to court, those children experience trauma upon trauma," Miles explained. "They often experience triggers just by being back in the courtroom. So as a result they can come here first. And this amazing room provides a calming environment where they don't have to be stressed."

Caddo Parish Juvenile Court handles roughly 1/10th of 1 percent of all foster child cases in the United States.  And the judge who presides over these cases is David Matlock. He says children undergoing the court process have significant emotional issues.

Credit Courtesy: Chuck Smith / Red River Radio News
Courtesy: Chuck Smith / Red River Radio News
HELPFUL DISTRACTION - The Calming Studio at Caddo Juvenile Court features projected interactive games to allow for a less-stressful experience when children have to make a court date.

"This can be a very toxic environment and we're trying to change that,"Matlock said. "We want to minimize the effects of this process which can be very, very devastating."

Several philanthropic organizations, businesses, and concerned individuals provided funding for the space. The Calming Studio at the Caddo Juvenile Court  has been open a little over two months and  about 60 Children have used it so far.   It  is  the only one  of  it’s  kind in Louisiana, and already it has gained  attention  from  other  court  officials  throughout  the  state.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.