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CA ACEs Summit: National Panel Questions and Discussion

IMG_1184The afternoon panel at the California ACEs Summit on national ACEs work featured Esta Soler (Futures Without Violence), Denise Dowd ( AAP), Melissa Merrick (CDC), and moderator Mark Cloutier (Gateway to the Golden State American Red Cross). (See Sylvia Paull’s blog post for information about some of their talks.)


In the engaging discussion that followed their talks, a few important points were made.

  • That universal programs can sometimes leave certain children out. Attendees called for both universal and targeted programming, to make sure all children receive the services and trauma support they need.
  • That we must adapt how we discuss ACEs and interventions based on our audience. For example, parents and families may get defensive if we discuss “risk reduction.” However, phrases like “promotion of health and wellbeing across the lifetime” and “relationship wellbeing” are easy for many people to get behind.
  • Esta mentioned that Americans want to hear about issues, like ACEs, from two type of people, 1) those who have a real story or experience to share relating to the issue, and 2) their pediatricians.
  •  Although 28 states are now screening for ACEs, many do not know what to do with the data once it is gathered. The session’s attendees agreed that we still need to figure out what to do with this data at the national data, now that it is being gathered on a large scale.
  • The discussion ended with the questions: “How do we change the national dialogue about ACEs?”. It was suggested that we need to change two narratives/myths, 1) that ACEs only affect small subpopulations of the US, and 2) that of the token person who overcome adversity by sheer force of will.  


After this panel, the “serious” part of the day’s events concluded, and everyone adjourned to the hotel restaurant for happy hour.


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Yes - semantics matter a great deal as does the voice (true personal, authentic voice) of the narrative being spoken. Data informs, but lives resonate. What resonates with researchers and professionals is often tailored in a way intended to resonate with them. What resonates with parents or K-12 educators must be tailored for resonance. Doing so is actually the most compassionate thing we could be doing.


If "they" can't hear what "we're" saying, it is up to "us" to listen to what "they" are most interested in. Upon listening, we can then make those adjustments so that we whittle down the "semantic gap" that exists between various stakeholders. Ask any parent who the center of their universe is and you will hear "my child(ren)." Ask any educator who is the center of the educational universe and the answer will be "my child(ren)." This gives me great hope that we are NOT that far from a major breakthrough nationally that will embody my favorite quote on leadership that seems to apply to our situation of drawing everyone into the dialogue of taking compassionate action to full scale:

To go fast, go alone.....but to go far, go together. (African Proverb)

We truly are moving forward at the speed of relationships!

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