The GO Bag:


While going to court is a critical step on the road to justice, many older adults—especially older adults with a trauma history—experience stress and anxiety that can prevent them from effectively participating in the legal process.

The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Center for Elder Justice at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale, in collaboration with the Brooklyn Law School HELP (Helping Elders through Litigation and Policy) Clinic, developed GO Bags as a trauma-informed best practice for the court appearances of older adults who have experienced abuse. A GO Bag is a bag of therapeutic items that can be taken into a courtroom and used by a client to relieve stress and help manage anxiety.

Court, and the triggers it frequently provokes, can place an extreme emotional burden on clients. To mediate the response, sensory objects such as stress balls, tissues, lotion, blankets, and headphones can do much to give clients a greater sense of calm and control throughout a court proceeding. Making sure an older adult feels present and capable during a court proceeding can then increase the amount of restorative justice that they feel as a result of court appearances.

The use of GO Bags in the courtroom is a trauma-informed best practice for all organizations and professionals that accompany older adults who have a trauma history to court. With the GO Bag, clients and attorneys prepare together for court’s potential traumatic triggers. The right song, book, scented lotion or comfort object can help our clients tap into their own power to soothe themselves and be fully present on their journey to justice.

Items to consider including in a GO Bag:

  • Essential Oil
  • Mini-Fan
  • Plastic Spoon
  • Water
  • Hat and Scarf
  • Sunglasses
  • Tissue Pack
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Hand Wipes
  • Soothing Scented Lotion
  • Reading Glasses
  • Hearing Aid Batteries Pack
  • Nail File
  • Umbrella
  • Magazines: English & Spanish (Large print)
  • iPod or MP3 Player
  • Coloring Book
  • Colored Pencils
  • Puzzle Books: English & Spanish (Large print)
  • Short Stories or Picture Books
  • Short Stories or Picture Books
  • Fidget Toy
  • Music Player with Headphones
  • Soft Fleece Lap Blanket
  • Soft Fleece Robe
  • Soft Fuzzy Socks
  • Chair Cushion with Straps for Use on Chairs & Wheelchairs
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