SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The state’s Health and Human Services Secretary, Marylou Sudders, was in Springfield Wednesday morning to learn about Square One’s “Cornerstone Therapy Center.”

Secretary Sudders got a tour of the facility on King Street and got a look at the therapeutic classroom for children experiencing trauma. Children, teachers and families use it to learn how to cope with trauma, and address their feelings.

Sudders told 22News the pandemic has had a major impact on kids’ mental health, “Kids just being kids is very, very important. It’s about building resilience in children in a wonderful, caring, educational environment.”

Square One President and CEO Dawn DiStefano said, “We work with them on coping mechanisms and identifying those behaviors between our bodies and our minds, and how we express those. We look for those obvious behaviors of isolation, anger, irritability, and at times, hyper-vigilance.” DiStefano also said they work on emotional well-being and peer to peer interactions to keep the kids happy.

This visit, of course just one day after the school shooting in Texas. Sudders explained what parents can do to help children through this, “First of all for parents, turn off the TVs and the constant images. Ensure your children that they are safe.”

She also suggests reaching out to teachers and watching for any changes in your child’s behavior.

Later, Sudders also joined State Representative Carlos González at Springfield Pharmacy Wednesday morning for a demonstration of their rapid COVID-19 testing equipment, provided through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds by Representative González. In total, $75,000 funds was obtained.

There are now more regional testing options available throughout the state; however, many low-income residents lack transportation and have a difficult time getting tested.

“We need to ensure that our strategy for addressing COVID-19 includes bilingual and culturally diverse outreach, guided by diverse community leaders.  The on-demand, rapid COVID-19 testing model can serve as a powerful example of public health equity that can be replicated across our state and country”, stated Representative González.