EASTON — Along with Maryland’s ACE Interface Cohort, For All Seasons and CASA of the Mid-Shore are partnering to train Mid-Shore residents about Adverse Childhood Experiences in hopes of helping communities to understand how trauma in young children may affect their physical, emotional and mental health later in life.
The trainings also bring awareness of how to build resiliency in children to help mitigate the trauma that they may have experienced.
According to the Abuse and Mental Services Administration, Adverse Childhood Experiences are stressful or traumatic events, including physical, sexual,or emotional abuse; physical or emotional neglect; household dysfunction like domestic violence, growing up with family members who have substance use disorders or who are incarcerated; or even experiencing a separation or divorce.
ACEs are strongly related to the development and prevalence of a wide range of health problems throughout a person’s lifespan, including those associated with substance misuse.
“We want people to know that ACEs isn’t about looking at what is ‘wrong’ with you, but rather about ‘what happened’ to you,” said Beth Anne Langrell, executive director of For All Seasons and a master presenter for ACEs,
Langrell, along with Alisha Saulsbury, For All Seasons Clinician; Latrice Gay, Salisbury University; and Jonathan Williams, of Shore Community Music Center, was trained as master presenters in 2018 by Maryland’s ACE Interface Cohort.
They joined Robin Davenport, executive director of CASA of the Mid-Shore, and Teresa Simmons of Salisbury University, the only two people from the Eastern Shore to be trained in 2017 as master trainers by Dr. Robert Anda, one of the scientists who developed the ACE Study. The other Mid-Shore ACEs presenter is Jonathan Williams from Talbot County.
“Information about the ACE Study and its ramifications for predicting a community’s public health issues is both ground-breaking and hopeful,” Davenport said. “As Dr. Anda says, ‘What is predictable is preventable.’ Therein lies the hope for mitigating the impact of ACEs.”
To date, free trainings have been done for a variety of schools, nonprofit organizations, civic groups and churches, including the staff at CASA of the Mid-Shore and Channel Marker, the professional staff and counselors at the Kent County Public Schools and the staff at Caroline County Parks and Recreation, among others.
“These trainings are shifting the community lens for children and adults alike, helping frame how trauma is seen in the community,” Langrell said. “By providing folks with the knowledge of how trauma affects the brain, we will be able to create a community where children can thrive.”
Davenport said, “We can alleviate, or lessen, the impact of ACEs by boosting resiliency in people of all ages, but particularly in our children.”
“Resilient people are more likely to overcome ACEs and live healthy lives,” she said. “Our job is to present information about what we can do help people build caring, protective communities.”
“It will be interesting to see over the next 20 years what happens with the information we are learning about ACEs,” Davenport said. “The ACE Study provides evidence-based research that validates many people’s gut feelings about the potential impact of adverse experiences, and it connects to CASA’s work. We know that relationships matter with children. With our Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteers, we are helping them to understand their role in the resiliency of their appointed children.”
Langrell agrees. “We certainly echo that at For All Seasons,” she said. “We are working in the community to build resilience. Helping those we serve and interact with to integrate resilience factors — asking for help, developing trusting relationships, forming positive attitudes and listening to feelings. These are really important pieces of the training.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, conducted from 1995 to 1997, is one of the largest investigations of childhood abuse and neglect and household challenges and later-life health and well-being.
In Maryland, Maryland’s State Council on Child Abuse and Neglect, the Maryland Essentials for Childhood program and the Family Tree Maryland work on ACEs projects. The Family Tree funded the ACE Interface training program, which held its first master trainers’ workshop in November 2017.
For more information about how your organization can have a free presentation on ACEs, contact Langrell at For All Seasons at 410-822-1018 or Davenport at CASA of the Mid-Shore at 410-822-2866.