By Amanda McDougald Scott, Special Projects Associate
How do the relationships in your life help you become more resilient? How could you help be that person for a child?
Last week, ICS was thrilled to partner with the Palmetto Peace Project, the #1 Question: Is It Good for the Children? Committee, and the Commission for Children and Youth to screen Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Senior Fellow Janice Gruendel led a discussion around the science of resilience to frame the screening, which was followed by an invited panel including Dr. Kelly Pew, Dr. Janice Gruendel, Chief Chris Watts, and Dr. Kori Bloomquist. ICS Board Member Sylvia Echols was instrumental in orchestrating this event.
The audience was comprised of an estimated 130 Rock Hill movers and shakers, which leant to a lively discussion of how different sectors of the Rock Hill community could mobilize to spread awareness and action regarding Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and resilience. One of the first comments was related to the fact that teachers already have a lot on their plates, but that knowledge of ACEs and resilience is important. Teachers are in important positions to be available to children who need a caring adult to step in and help them cope with traumatic circumstances. However, it is also noteworthy that teachers cannot and should not be the only people available to these children—which is where school resources, community resources and services, the faith sector, and the healthcare system should step in. Building one-on-one relationships is a crucial piece of supporting families and children.
One of the parts of the film that particularly touched some audience members pertained to Miss Kendra’s Rules. Miss Kendra’s rules allow young children to know what is acceptable or not, as it relates to behaviors and personal boundaries. Audience members (and panelists) were particularly interested in applying and researching the effectiveness of these rules, which were developed in New Haven to provide a character with whom children felt they could share.
Several audience members agreed when the faith community sector was brought up as an important part of reaching out to children and families. In fact, two audience members seated behind me enthusiastically accepted the task of getting their own church involved in sharing the Resilience message. These efforts could help mobilize more people in order to create the types of meaningful one-on-one relationships that could be crucial to supporting children and families.
Audience members wanted to know tips on how to convince people that prevention and support efforts should begin at birth. One aspiring social worker suggested a solution of having social workers and/or counselors embedded within doctors’ offices so that support is available for everyone on site. This is something that has been proposed within the medical home model for several years now, so this is a definite actionable item, with many blueprints available to build upon.
Lastly, one of the audience members was from the Rock Hill Parks and Tourism sector, and asked how they could help with supporting strong bodies. Dr. Gruendel, who advocates for a strong body to complement a strong mind, enthusiastically received this. Again, there is much evidence that stronger bodies build resilient minds in the face of trauma. Furthermore, meditation and mindfulness were suggested strategies for building resiliency and coping with trauma, which is also supported by research.
The screening – the second ICS has helped host this year – left attendees motivated to make difference. A few key takeaways for our readers who want to get involved:
- Learn more about the topic with ACEs 101
- Resiliency screenings can be obtained and shared with your own community.
- Provide opportunities for people to take the ACES screener themselves, which will facilitate understanding of what ACEs are, as well as the collective vulnerability that many people share.
- Build Resiliency and ACE/trauma competency into professional development opportunities and training. Use Dr. Gruendel’s slides from this event as your starting point (we recommend viewing in “presentation” mode for full effect).
- More resources are needed to help provide the infrastructure to support trauma-informed response systems and partnerships.