For the Chiefs August 9th preseason game against the Houston Texans, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC) and the Chiefs selected Pam Sanders, the director of education for Cornerstones of Care, as the Blue KC Chiefs Kingdom Champion. Prior to kickoff, Sanders received on-field recognition and conducted the ceremonial first pass to Marc Boerigter before touring the Chiefs broadcast booth and enjoying the game.
For more than 35 years, Sanders has educated numerous children and youth in a safe, therapeutic learning environment as part of the day treatment program on Cornerstones of Care Gillis Campus. She has provided education and healing to students from more than 20 school districts.
Through her leadership, students are able to thrive educationally and develop coping skills to help them effectively navigate through life. Each year, Sanders ensures every graduate is recognized and celebrated for their accomplishments.
Sanders began working for Cornerstones of Care immediately after graduating from the University of Nebraska. Over her 35 years, she has held the titles of youth care worker, recreation therapist, trainer, vocational teacher, and finally, the director of education.
"We need to reach out to help those in need and contribute to the common good. If a child can develop and maintain a positive attachment to school and gain enthusiasm for learning, they will do so much better in their lives," Sanders explained. "The roles of educators in the lives of children who have experienced trauma cannot be underestimated. Children who have a safe and healthy experience at school develop a love of learning and greater resilience in the face of adversity."
Sanders said mentors, foster parents and financial donations make the program work.
"At Cornerstones of Care we strive to create a safe healing environment that respects dignity and inclusion, so our children and families can experience more fulfilling and rewarding lives. In partnership with the community, we're creating safer and healthier children and families. Our greatest needs are mentors, foster parents and financial donations. Learn more at cornerstonesofcare.org or call us at 1-844-824-8200."
One of the most rewarding experiences of her work with Cornerstones of Care was seeing the service become a certified trauma-informed organization.
"We take a researched-based approach to understanding, recognizing and responding to the effects of trauma. Understanding trauma and how it impacts students and families has transformed the way we engage with each other. We have created an environment that focuses on relationships, trust, and emotional safety," Sanders said.
Sanders has a background to match her award tonight with a family history rich in sports history.
"Sports were always important in our competitive family and I'm a long-time Kansas City Chiefs and Royals fan. My family has connections to both college (Nebraska Cornhuskers) and professional sports," Sanders said. "My uncle Bob Cerv lettered in two sports at the University of Nebraska and played for the Kansas City A's and the New York Yankees. He holds the KC home run record of 38 home runs, which is now shared with Mike Moustakas.
Sanders' brother, Derrie Nelson, an All-American walk-on, was captain of the Nebraska Cornhuskers and played in the NFL for the San Diego Chargers.
"Children and parents in the Kansas City community who are affected by trauma are so lucky to have Pam and support of the talented team atCornerstones of Care," said Christina Lively, Blue KC's Department Vice President of Marketing and Communications. "She has created a learning environment that not only meets the educational needs of students but also meets their social, emotional and behavioral health needs. We're proud to honor her as a Blue KC Chiefs Kingdom Champion."
To nominate a local hero like Pam Sanders to be recognized as a Blue KC Chiefs Kingdom Champion, visit chiefs.com/bluekc.