Understanding ACEs: Building Self-Healing Communities

Presenters are ready to educate, empower and connect!

In January 2018, Children’s Home Society of South Dakota and the Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment at USD brought a new curriculum to South Dakota co-authored by Ace Interface partners: Dr. Robert Anda, Co-Principal Investigator of the Ace Study, and Laura Porter, Experienced Leader of Community-based and Policy-level Application of ACE-Related Science. The curriculum includes information across three domains: Neuroscience, the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, and Resilience.

Twenty-six professionals from multiple sectors across the state were selected to participate in a training and learning community focused on building self-healing communities.  Participants spent two days with Dr. Robert Anda, Laura Porter, and Kathy Adams learning about the impacts of trauma, the ACE study, and how to support positive change within a community.

Since January 2018, we have presented this information to over 14,000 South Dakotans statewide and trained an additional 140 presenters. Communities who have heard this information are launching a new social movement – one with the power to transform the future of the public’s health.

We are excited to continue spreading this message out across our state. If you interact with humans, you need ACEs training! Check out the 5 minute ACEs Primer video below and then Contact us to learn more about how to get this FREE training in your community.

Community Education Resources

To augment the Understanding ACEs curriculum, we recommend increasing community awareness through public film screenings that address ACEs science and trauma informed care.  Through the SD ACEs and Resiliency program, we can help you plan a community screening to introduce a larger, more diverse audience to the science of adversity and community resilience.

Resilience Trailer - KPJR Films

“The child may not remember, but the body remembers.”

The original research was controversial, but the findings revealed the most important public health findings of a generation. RESILIENCE is a one-hour documentary that delves into the science of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and the birth of a new movement to treat and prevent Toxic Stress. Now understood to be one of the leading causes of every- thing from heart disease and cancer to substance abuse and depression, extremely stressful experiences in childhood can alter brain development and have lifelong effects on health and behavior.

However, as experts and practitioners profiled in RESILIENCE are proving, what’s predictable is preventable. These physicians, educators, social workers and communities are daring to talk about the effects of divorce, abuse and neglect. And they’re using cutting edge science to help the next generation break the cycles of adversity and disease.

Paper Tigers Trailer - KPJR Films

Paper Tigers follows a year in the life of an alternative high school that has radically changed its approach to disciplining its students, becoming a promising model for how to break the cycles of poverty, violence and disease that affect families.

ACEs: A Public Health Concern

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are stressful or traumatic events that happen in childhood. The CDC Division of Violence Prevention, in partnership with Kaiser Permanente, conducted a landmark study from 1995 – 1997 with more than 17,000 participants known as the ACE Study. What we know from the ACE Study and subsequent research is that children who face traumas such as abuse, neglect or witnessing domestic violence are much more likely to develop social, emotional and behavioral challenges. Research also demonstrates that traumas often follow children well into their adult lives. Adults who have experienced childhood trauma are more likely to develop difficulties with substance abuse, mental health, divorce, holding down a job, parenting, domestic violence and incarceration. Childhood trauma survivors also develop serious health issues such as heart disease, chronic lung diseases, diabetes, obesity and cancer.

Why ACE Scores Matter

STRESS: Toxic stress damages the developing brain architecture, which can lead to life-long problems in learning, behavior, and physical and mental health.

DEVELOPMENT: The more adversity a child experiences in the first 3 years of life, the greater the odds of developmental delays.

HEALTH: Early high stress experiences imbed into the body with lifelong cognitive, emotional, and physical health effects.

ACE score of 1 or more

People with 1 or more ACE have an increased risk of cancer, heart disease, depression, and obesity

ACE score of 6 or higher

People with 1 or more ACE have an increased risk of cancer, heart disease, depression, and obesity

ACE score of 7,8 or higher

People with an ACE score of 7 or 8 are 3 times more likely to have cardiovascular disease as an adult

Adverse Childhood Experiences include:

  • Emotional abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional neglect
  • Physical neglect
  • Mother treated violently
  • Household substance abuse
  • Household mental illness
  • Parental separation or divorce
  • Incarcerated household member

Childhood trauma can also include many other circumstances such as witnessing an accident or crime, bullying, being homeless, discrimination, natural disasters and war. Trauma is experienced individually, although there are many things individuals, friends and families can do to help.