The Rollercoasters Program

“I didn’t cause it. I can’t fix it but I can cope.”

Catholic Charities’ Rollercoasters program, supported by the Jessie Games, is an 8-week course for elementary school children struggling with trauma in their lives. This effective, compassionate outreach program is offered during the school day to nurture self esteem and foster constructive behavior through creative play, activities, games and artwork.

Offered at no charge, Rollercoasters was first introduced in Greene County, where it has demonstrated remarkable success. In the latest school year, Rollercoaster staff had more than 1,000 face to face contacts. Before starting the program, nearly half of the students reported anxiety and difficulty concentrating on their work. By the end, 9 out of 10 said they had learned skills to help them deal with the stresses in their lives. Teachers, too, noted improvements, reporting 98% of the students who participated in the program maintained and improved positive behavior.

Due to its success there, a new staff member was hired to expand the program into others counties served by Catholic Charities, starting with Allegheny County. A virtual version of the program is also in progress.