Nonprofit provides resources for Hopewell students after 8-year-old’s murder

Published: Jan. 3, 2023 at 6:48 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 3, 2023 at 6:49 AM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HOPEWELL, Va. (WWBT) - Days after the shooting death of 8-year-old P’Aris Moore in Hopewell, the Richmond-based nonprofit Child Savers says it will be working to make sure the school division student’s mental well-being is cared for.

“It’s tragic how often we have to express our condolences to children who have lost their lives,” said the organization’s Mental Health Services Manager Bob Nickles. “More so than other mental health contexts that I’ve worked Child Savers sees a pretty high percentage of kids with complex trauma histories.

Due to the high number of traumatic situations, people - especially youth - experience in greater Richmond, Nickles says the organization has recently adopted a more hands-on approach in order to serve the needs of communities like Hopewell.

The partnership has existed for over five years with school divisions like Richmond, but Nickles says the Child Savers only expanded to Hopewell during the summer.

“It’s part of our collaboration with other school divisions to embed therapists and mental health counselors in each of the schools identified by the school division and in Hopewell’s case they Identified all five of their main schools,” Nickles said.

Unlike Richmond - which has broader access to mental health services, Nickles says Hopewell residents typically have to travel further just to get the same kind of care. Child Savers says the goal is to make sure students and parents don’t have to go too far to get the assistance they need.

“That hasn’t always been the case in Hopewell so we’re really happy to be there, Mental health support seems needed now more than ever, and not just for children.,” Nickles said. “That stress also exists for the adults the caregiver’s grandparents etc.

Furthermore, as students head back to school next week Nickles also invites parents or guardians to open up to their kids to help foster positive coping strategies.

“I find children’s literature really helpful having a picture book or some story about another kid or a character in an animal that experiences loss, especially for a young kid,” Nickles said. “I think reminding them of things that are true that are unchanged by the slice I still love you you’re still my child we’re still a family we know how to connect I enjoy spending time with you those are the kind of things our kids need to hear from us.”

Nickles says parents should find more opportunities to deliberately check with their children to ensure they are ok - especially if they notice that they are not eating or sleeping well.

“That basic level or permission to not be ok is hugely important for family functioning and for role modeling to let kids know that it’s ok is hugely important for family role-modeling for kids to know that they may not be ok,” Nickles said.

According to Hopewell Police, P’Aris was shot in the chest while riding her bike in her neighborhood Friday. She was rushed to a hospital, where she later died from her injuries.

Harry E. James Elementary School principal Melody Hackney confirmed in a statement that P’aris was a student at the school.

“Please join me in keeping her family Opens parentheses to include her siblings at HJ, CGWMS, and HHS), her EHEJ family and classmates, our partners in the police department, and our entire community in your thoughts and prayers and the difficult days ahead. The senseless gun violence in our city must stop and as sad as it is we can only pray that this horrific incident and the resulting loss of life will be the catalyst for the change in action we need a Hopewell to get this under control once and for all.

And while I know we are all absolutely heartbroken as we begin to mourn her life and death, may our only New Year’s resolution for 2023 be justice for this sweet baby and a community commitment and plan to ensure this never happened again. May sincerest condolences to all impacted by this tragedy.

I have an especially heavy heart for the HEJ family, privileged to have known, served, and love this beautiful soul taken from us way too soon. Thank you to the faculty and staff for the difference you made in her life during the short time she had on earth. God help us.

Hopewell Police are working with very few leads in order to locate a suspect. They are asking the people in the Hopewell community to come forward with an answer as to whoever may be responsible.

If you know anything you are asked to contact Hopewell Crime Solvers at 804-541-2202.