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First Responders in the ACE and Resilience Movement: Addressing Secondary Trauma and Building Community

  • Oct 07, 2016
Anndee Hochman

Two years ago, Kansas City Police Captain Darren Ivey had never heard of secondary trauma. But he could see how the relentless stress of police work chewed away at the personal lives of officers.

“What I started seeing was…how many department members had attempted suicide, how many domestic violence calls we responded to on our own people, how many DUI calls,” he said. “We’ve been told to suck it up, and it’s killing us.”

That’s why Ivey was eager to work with members of his own department, Truman Medical Center, and Trauma Matters Kansas City (TMKC) to develop a training on trauma and resilience for first responders. Ivey now sits on the Steering Committee for Resilient KC, a partnership between TMKC and the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce that aims to build a healthy and resilient community...This spring, he took part in a two-day First Responders Summit in Tarpon Springs, Florida—a half-day session hosted by Peace4Tarpon at St. Petersburg College that reached participants from 28 different agencies including 911 dispatch, police, fire and corrections, followed by a smaller, more in-depth training.


Youth Leadership in the ACE and Resilience Movement

  • Sep 06, 2016
Anndee Hochman

Two volunteers race against the clock to stack red Solo cups into the highest tower they can manage.

Queenie Smith keeps knocking them down.

After the one-minute exercise, Smith, who is leading this hour-long training on trauma and resilience along with two colleagues, explains to her audience that the game is a metaphor: “You constantly build up your life goals, but ACEs keep knocking them down.”

The exercise works because participants respond in exactly the same way individuals respond to adversity: some give up in frustration, some lower their standards, and some just keep plugging away.

It’s also a powerful exercise because Smith and her co-trainers are teenagers, members of the Youth Healing Team at Hopeworks ‘N Camden, an organization that uses a trauma-informed approach while teaching web design and other skills to help youth ages 14-23 return to school or find meaningful work.

Walla Walla: Collective Action and Data Drive Trauma-Informed Change

  • Aug 25, 2016

By: Larke N. Huang, Ph.D., Director, SAMHSA Office of Behavioral Health Equity; Rebecca Flatow, Office of Policy, Planning, and Innovation; Mary Blake, SAMHSA Center for Mental Health Services

Six cities were invited to SAMHSA for a listening session to present their innovative approaches to addressing trauma.  This blog is part of a series that highlights community approaches in selected implementation domains and how each city is working to create safer and healthier places to live, learn, work and play.

Moving toward the ACEs tipping point: Communities, their ACEs initiatives and ACEs billboards

  • Aug 22, 2016

David Bornstein, a columnist for the New York Times, posted the third of a three-part series (Putting the power of self-knowledge to work) about communities that are integrating trauma-informed and resilience-building practices based on ACEs science. (Part one —Tapping a troubled neighborhood’s inner strength, and part two — How community networks stem childhood traumas.)

It’s a terrific series, with information that we can all use, and I highly recommend reading them all. 

Some members of ACEsConnection appear in the series. (Laura Porter, Teri Barila, Dr. Vincent Felitti were in the first two). 

And so many, many more don’t appear, which is all to say that it’s just incredible how many people and communities have started along this ACEs journey in the last few years. By “many people", I mean the 10,359 people who are members of ACEsConnection (as of this writing), plus hundreds of others who haven't found us yet. By "many communities”, I mean the neighborhoods, towns, cities, counties, regions, states and nations, which number in the low hundreds now.

Once they decide to embrace ACEs, some communities embark on a guided journey, and have participated or are participating in the Sanctuary Institute’s certification program or the National Council on Behavioral Health’s Trauma-Informed Learning Community. Others are part of initiatives, such as Building Community Resilience and the Change in Minds initiative. Most communities start on their own. A few people hear about ACEs science, the light bulb goes on, and they say, “This knowledge can help us finally solve our most intractable problems! Let’s get started!”

Montana’s an example of a self-starter. Todd Garrison learned about ACEs science in 2008 and jumped on the small ACEs bandwagon that existed at that time. He'd been doing fund-raising and project development with Montana-based Intermountain, a 100-year-old organization nationally recognized for its work in treating children with emotional and mental health issues. 


Seeking Unconventional Partnerships in Buncombe County, NC

  • Aug 08, 2016

Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has an unwavering vision of the future she wants to live into.

Her most recent challenge "…To forge new and unconventional partnerships with the goal of building a Culture of Health that benefits all" provides a strategy for living into a safer, healthier community.

Her challenge hit home for me given a recent experience I had.

Movement-Making in Buncombe County, NC: Opportunity-Based Narrative and Creation Spaces

  • Aug 08, 2016

Mobilizing action can be intimidating. Creating a movement even more so.  John Hagel provides the following definition of a movement: an organized effort mobilizing a large number of independent participants in a grassroots effort to pursue a broad agenda for change.  

He indicates that there are two key ingredients in movement making: 1) compelling narratives and 2) fostering creation spaces. In Buncombe County, we are experimenting with both of these notions.

Using Film to Mobilize Action

  • Aug 02, 2016
Anndee Hochman

For years, Teri Barila had tried to coax newspaper reporters in Walla Walla, Washington, to write about brain science, ACEs, and resilience. They didn’t bite.

Then, on a crisp December evening, 1600 people—many of them inspired by years of community organizing—crammed the town’s largest venue for a screening of Paper Tigers, James Redford’s documentary about the dramatic reboot of a local alternative school after its principal became an advocate of trauma-informed care. Suddenly, reporters and editors “were not only interested, but almost ecstatic over the story of the film,” Barila says. “There was such a diverse audience—not just education or law enforcement, but the entire community. That was a strong message.”

Paper Tigers is one of a handful of films that MARC communities and others have used to raise awareness, engage new partners, and help drive their efforts toward trauma-informed change. In Philadelphia, the ACE Task Force hosted a marathon double-feature of Paper Tigers and Professional Caregivers: Their Passion, Their Pain that included Skype interviews with the film-makers. In Kansas City, a community organizing campaign focused on health equity used The Raising of America: Early Childhood and the Future of our Nation to generate questions and energy.

MARC advisor Kathryn Evans Madden, who helped lead the Raising of America Kansas City Coalition, says that such films, when used effectively, should only be part of a community’s plan. “The goal is good organizing; the movie is just a tool,” she says. “You need to think about what you’re asking people to do: what is the key message, and how will you rope all that energy into a powerful next step?”