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Shared Learnings

Taking ACEs to School: Trauma-Informed Approaches in Higher Education

  • Jul 11, 2017
By:
Anndee Hochman

“What happened to you?” isn’t just a question for therapists to ask their troubled clients. It’s a question that should inform the work of physicians, nurses, lawyers, educators, social workers and public health advocates from the time they are learning their professions to each real-world encounter.

That’s the hope of the Philadelphia ACE Task Force (PATF), whose workforce development group released a toolkit to help faculty across a range of disciplines weave content on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and resilience into new or existing graduate curricula.

The release of the online toolkit coincided with an October 2016 event that brought together local faculty and administrators in higher education, along with funders and leaders of government and private non-profit agencies, to learn why the next generation of the work force must examine all they do through a trauma-informed lens.


Curiosity and Reciprocity: Engaging Community in the ACE and Resilience Movement

  • Jun 26, 2017
By:
Anndee Hochman

In an all-day workshop that Mobilizing Action for Resilient Communities (MARC) advisor Laura Porter was leading with community organizers and parents, she told the story of a woman from the Congo who had to leave her homeland. Before the woman left, she had a dream about living in the United States.

The woman said she imagined opening her door, letting her children run free, hearing them laugh and play. She envisioned people asking one another, “How are you?” without any compulsion to evade by answering, “Fine. I’m fine.” And, she added, “I could go with my children to the store and not have to be afraid that they would be arrested for being black.”

Porter was struck by the woman’s words—a vision of safety and belonging that is rarely voiced out loud. “As we’re engaging people, that dream is just under the surface,” says Porter. “When we touch on that, we touch on something very powerful: the core values…that go beyond political strife or individual experience. We can touch an aspirational world.”


By the Numbers: Using Data to Advance the ACE and Resilience Movement

  • May 02, 2017
By:
Anndee Hochman

The postcards said a lot more than “wish you were here.”

Last spring, Boston’s Vital Village Community Engagement Network created postcards highlighting key data from a survey of parents in the Boston Medical Center pediatric waiting room.

“Our goal was really to engage people,” says Boynton-Jarrett. “It was very helpful for us as a team to begin to see the data we collected shared in real time, rather than collecting for two or three years, summarizing it in a big report and putting it on a shelf.”


Service Clubs in the ACE and Resilience Movement: Reaching Out with Facts and Stories

  • Feb 03, 2017
By:
Anndee Hochman

Before Claire Ranit spoke to her local Rotary Club, she needed to know if her listeners would be elephants or riders.

Ranit, MARC project director for the Columbia River Gorge, was referring to a model of behavioral psychology outlined by psychologist Jonathan Haidt in his book, The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom. In Haidt’s metaphor the conscious mind is a rider on the back of an elephant, while the elephant galumphs along on instinct and impulse.

“The elephant is a big, powerful animal—the emotional side of things,” Ranit explains. “The rider is the analytical piece that makes decisions and guides the elephant where it needs to go.”


Artists in the ACE and Resilience Movement: Creative Avenues to Change

  • Dec 28, 2016
By:
Anndee Hochman

They began with a song and ended with a poem. In-between, there were photographs and giant graphic renderings, movement exercises and a “human pulse” formed when 90 people stood in a circle and squeezed each other’s hands.

At a June summit in Whatcom County, Washington, titled “Our Resilient Community: A Community Conversation on Resilience and Equity,” the arts played a starring role.

Kristi Slette, executive director of the Whatcom Family and Community Network, one of two Washington sites participating in the Mobilizing Action for Resilient Communities (MARC) project, says the arts—music, dance, sculpture, storytelling—can help audiences understand trauma, resilience and hope in a visceral way.

“When the research and the data don’t pull you in, interacting with the arts communicates with people in a way they’re open to,” she says. “It extends our reach.”


Business Leaders in the ACE and Resilience Movement: A Different Kind of Bottom Line

  • Nov 22, 2016
By:
Anndee Hochman

The owner of the biggest construction firm in Walla Walla, Washington, sat through a February 2013 seminar that framed adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in ways a business person could understand: how childhood trauma could translate into low productivity, high turnover, sinking morale and rising health care costs.

The top cause of on-the-job injury at the construction firm was substance abuse by young male workers. Suddenly, the dots connected. The owner leaned toward Teri Barila, co-founder of the Children’s Resilience Initiative, and said, “Now I know what you’ve been trying to tell us.”


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

  • Oct 07, 2016
By:
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
By:
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.


Using Film to Mobilize Action

  • Aug 02, 2016
By:
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?”


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