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We’ve changed our name to PACEs Connection! 

 

The big change!

We have some very exciting news! As of today, ACEs Connection is now PACEs Connection. PACEs stands for Positive and Adverse Childhood Experiences.

Before I explain why we made that change, rest assured that while the look of the home page and the network is different, the way you use PACEs Connection remains the same. It’ll work the same way it always has.

Behind the scenes today and tomorrow (March 16 and 17, 2021), our team is diligently making the changes necessary for this transition. They began by changing our web address from www.acesconnection.com to www.pacesconnection.com. They also made sure that your bookmarks and links to any pages on ACEs Connection are automatically redirecting to the correct new web address.

The home page and the pages that link from the home page are changing today, as are the home pages of some of our larger sites, such as Parenting with PACEs, PACEs and Education, PACEs and Pediatrics. No information will be removed or altered, except to change ACEs to PACEs where appropriate, and to include additional information about positive childhood experiences.

PACEs Connection comprises more than 400 communities, so please be patient as we work with community managers to update the information on each community site. That will take at least a month, perhaps longer. On social media, you can find us now @PACEsConnection.

We may experience brief periods of downtime as the system works through the updates. Our emails will change soon, and direct to our original emails. Please pardon our stumbles as we go through this transition.

A HUGE thanks to Mindy Atwood, Val Krist, Jenna Quinn, Alison Cebulla, Carey Sipp, and Brian from Crowdstack (the platform we use for our social network). You are making a really difficult transition look easy!

If you have any questions about any of this, please don’t hesitate to reach out to any of us!

So…..Why are we doing this?

To explain this so that it makes sense, here’s a little chronology:

For the first years of ACEs Connection, we described ACEs science as including five parts:

  1. The epidemiology of adverse childhood experiences (the original CDC-Kaiser Permanente ACE Study and the hundreds of other ACE studies);
  2. The short- and long-term health consequences;
  3. The effects of toxic stress from ACEs on the brain;
  4. How toxic stress from ACEs passes from generation to generation of humans and systems;
  5. And resilience research.


We always included information about resilience, but it didn’t quite hit the mark. So, for the last few years, we’ve been talking about how to integrate positive childhood experiences into our community in a more meaningful way.

We’re one of several other major elements of this movement in which we’ve all been inching along: SAMHSA’s trauma-informed practices, CSSP’s Strengthening Families and the CDC’s Essentials for Childhood (safe, stable, nurturing relationships, and environments), and social-emotional learning (SEL). Of course, I’m simplifying wildly, because you can break all this down even further, into developmental trauma, attachment theory, etc. But where I’m going with this, is that the movement is giving people lots of pieces at a time when we need a more comprehensive framework.

For example, most trauma-informed training usually includes some brain science and sometimes generational trauma, but not ACEs epidemiology or health consequences. So, the training gives tools without providing an understanding of the science behind them. Which carries a great risk of simplifying it and/or turning it into the latest fad.

One more piece, the most important for the U.S.: Over the last year, there’s been a long overdue awakening of people wanting to learn about race, equity, and inclusion, thank goodness. But without a foundation of PACEs science, we risk losing that to the grip that racism holds on this society, and the misbegotten idea that Whites should heal Black people, Native Americans and people of color. It’s the opposite: Whites need to heal themselves by acknowledging the harm done, examining the harm still being done, and making amends — by providing reparations to Black and Indigenous people, by creating anti-racist policies and laws, by addressing inequity by providing more opportunity. By doing so, that begins to heal everyone, even though the pain of the trauma will linger for decades. We need time for people to understand this remarkable knowledge, to bake it into our hearts and bones, and to let go of “them” and “us”.

So back to our decision to change our name: Here we all are, in this movement, with me feeling as if I was stuck between a rock and a hard spot. We at ACEs Connection realized that looking only at ACEs wasn’t capturing what happens in our lives. And, although the knowledge of ACEs science liberated a lot of people by explaining their lives, it also depressed a lot of people if they weren’t provided information about resilience. And sometimes, even if they were, it wasn’t emphasized or explained sufficiently.

What popped me out from my stuck place between the rocks was the research that Dr. Christina Bethell, Jennifer Jones, Dr. Narangerel Gombojav, Dr. Jeff Linkenbach, and Dr. Robert Sege did on positive childhood experiences and published in 2019. They used data from Wisconsin’s ACE study to look at seven positive childhood experiences (PCEs) and found that positive childhood experiences show a dose-response association with depression and poor mental health, just as ACEs show a dose response. The more PCEs, the less depression; the more ACEs, the more depression. But here’s Bethell’s important conclusion: “Joint assessment of PCEs and ACEs may better target needs and interventions and enable a focus on building strengths to promote well being.”

So, my take on this is that it’s fine to talk about the ACEs and PCEs you have. Why not? It’s useful shorthand. It’s an easy way to think about this knowledge, especially if you’re new to it.

ACEs and PCEs don't work separately

HOWEVER….don’t think of them as working separately. Nor are they two sides of the same coin. In reality, adversity and positive experiences work together, all the time, throughout your life, in your body and in your brain, in your communities.

There’s a great video from the Alberta Family Wellness Initiative (funded by the Palix Foundation) — the folks that developed “The Brain Story” — that shows, very cleverly, how this works. It’s called “Brains: Journey to Resilience.”

APACES1

Here are a few images from the video that show how positive and adverse experiences work together.

APACES2

Not only can you learn to balance them on a fulcrum, but you can also move the fulcrum so that as a person heals, their tolerance for adversity increases.

APACES3

And guess how that will be useful for all of us? When climate change strengthens and throws more adversity at us, we want to be stronger to create solutions to deal with it.

We’re taking this a step further: We’re applying this same approach that’s useful for individuals and families to organizations, systems and communities. That’s VERY important for organizations and systems to develop policies that heal and to create an anti-racist society.

And a reminder from Bethell: Adversity can become a positive experience. There’s more attention being paid lately to post-traumatic growth. My life is a case in point: Without the load of ACEs that I had as a child, PACEs Connection would not have been created. Or, maybe it would have, but not by me. I’m sure many of you resonate with how your own adversity led to growth. (Of course, I sometimes wish my life had been adverse-free with more positive experiences, but that’s not life. What I can aim for is the day when there’s no need for PACEs Connection!)

I’m not saying PACEs is a perfect framework. It’s just one step on the path toward something that might be more useful.

As a movement, it’s obvious that we need to figure out how to better describe this amazing knowledge and increase the understanding of PACEs. We need to make PACEs science clear to everyone, no matter what their learning style, so that we can talk about and use this knowledge in our individual lives, our community lives, our organizational lives and our systems lives. And at all stages, we must always consider how racism, the elephant in the room, relates to the discussion.

We’re asking for your continued participation PACEs Connection and in this conversation and for your ideas about integrating PACEs into our lives and work….through your blog posts, including your personal stories; poetry and visual art; ideas for and participation in webinars, and any other way you’d like.

We’re hosting a Better Normal on March 26 with Christy Bethell to launch the conversation. At that time, we’ll also give you a teaser to the upcoming HOPE Summit, sponsored by the HOPE National Resource Center at Tufts Children's Hospital, where some of the presenters will address the interplay between positive and adverse childhood experiences. (There’s also another HOPE project at the University of Oklahoma worth exploring sometime soon….that project's focus is tangential to the Tufts University project, but not the same.)

Since it’s the beginning of a conversation, I’ll leave it there. We all want to hear from each other as we explore this new territory.

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Hi Jane, I applaud the name change from ACEs, ADVERSE Childhood Experiences, to PACES, POSITIVE & Adverse Childhood Experiences, but it must be noted that there is an inherent positive/negative bias implying those suffering ACEs are lacking and less-than, requiring PCEs to be made well, okay, and "good."

When we experience either ACEs or PCEs, as CHILDREN our brains change.

When we experience Adv.Exp.'s or Pos.Exp.'s in Childhood, our brains morph - of course they do, we are children, and children's brains are always growing - meaning their brains don't as much morph from one form to another as grow differently, right? Wrong - Not actually: In both child and adult the changes that occur, occur by neuroGeneration and neuroDegeneration.

Less expected is that as ADULTS our brains also change.

When we experience Adv.Exp.'s or Pos.Exp.'s in our Adulthood, our brains morph - of course, as adults our brains are not growing as fast as when we were children, but neurons in adult brains are always having to grow to learn and adapt as well as to replace a major portion of those brain cells that are constantly dying as one ages - in children this paring-back is called senescence. Again, the processes in both adult and child are nearly identical, given the many differences between young and old. Not just children's brains, it turns out,, can be very plastic and able to grow new neurons - so although adult's brains aren't always growing, still, in both child and adult the changes that occur, occur by neuroGeneration and neuroDegeneration. In adults of various ages it may be instructive to compare how age affects ones brain plasticity to how age affects ones ability to gain or lose muscle mass. Keep in mind though, how fairly-fast in both adult and child that our muscles can respond to external stimuli and physically change in response to use or lack of use. This is happening to all of us all of the time - to both our muscles and our brains from infant to ancient.

(1) If one experiences ACEs it is important to understand that these experiences neither damage one nor heal one, instead based on and because of these experiences it is important to fully understand and grasp that you are perfectly adapted to the way the world really is. You are p-e-r-f-e-c-t-l-y adapted to your environment - YOU genuinely are, no B.S., really a-r-e PERFECT.

(2) If one experiences PCEs it is important to understand that these experiences neither damage one nor heal one, instead based on and because of these experiences it is important to fully understand and grasp that you are perfectly adapted to the way the world really is. You are p-e-r-f-e-c-t-l-y adapted to your environment - YOU genuinely, no B.S., really a-r-e PERFECT.

(3) When one experiences EXTREME LEVELS of EITHER ACEs or PCEs not only are the resulting physical changes, as one would reasonably expect, also equally extreme - the physical and behavioral changes to how one perceives the world are IDENTICAL. I-d-e-n-t-i-c-a-l. These changes vary between individuals only by degree, not in form or direction which is as unvarying as the number of heads most people have, and for the same reason, we all share a largely similar basic biology. Just as one with extreme ACEs can be helped to better monitor ones own behaviors, thoughts, feelings and emotions-the same applies to those "suffering" from extreme PCEs. BOTH extreme ACEs & extreme PCEs exposure results in adaptation to this exposure by changing how one processes information: tending to focus more on near term issues than distant ones; more reactive to threat; more focused on self-interest versus group-interest; more obeisant to authority figures, etcettera. Spread the word

WHY THIS IS SO IMPORTANT - Here is a real-world example of how a proper understanding of ourselves can help us in making better decisions:

I'm in communication with all 67 school districts in Florida. They are bringing down the CPAC-led Governors that are destroying schools & killing people.

My school district of Broward County, 6th largest in US, started the mask rebellion in FL & nationwide, I I'm proud to say. We've been in the national news quite a bit the past few weeks.

On CSPAN this morning (Aug 30) I spoke to the Pres. of Am. Soc. of Pediatrics regarding fact that to promote natural herd immunity in students to increase a populations herd immunity (by culling the sick & elderly) is the textbook dictionary definition of Eugenic GENOCIDE - Period.

It is INEVITABLE that over time HISTORIANS will criminalize Desantis in FL, Trump & Abbott in TX down as being guilty of mass murder & crimes against humanity. INEVITABLE! Desantis will put pedal to the metal as he nears the COVID Cliff and he'll keep it pressed down as he goes over the edge, the whole way down because in his eyes, knowing this inevitability if he doesn't prove COVID a farce, it is an issue of his LEGACY or our LIVES. Period.

46 million children in the US cannot be vaccinated - that is a very big petri dish for a next Desantis-variant. Sigh.

Following is the most recent of a series of correspondences. Broward has a new superintendent and this was sent to the Chair of our Broward School Board and the superintendent both, although perhaps a bit confusingly, refers to the superintendent in the third person...

Is being bullied over masks distracting us from the need to partially or fully be closing our schools, especially the earlier grades?

(1) Are you being provided with what the local official/science-based infection rate is based on regional official random testing? Yes/no?

- BULLYING & RACISM (Colorism) -

This Covid disaster is ALL ABOUT RACE, ELITISM & a deep EUGENIC BIAS that is born of two central False-Science core Beliefs;

(A) That Evolution optimizes, this is False, it does Not, and;

(B) That evolution optimizes by competition, this is also False. Evolutionary success as survival & adaptation is more reliant on Cooperation than on Competition.



This "Bigger Picture" matters. Here is Why -

Bullied brains don't just think differently, they ARE different - our brains are hard-wired to change & morph dramatically and quickly to real-time potential threats to ones life, threats like whenever one suffers being bullied and abused.

Understanding why we have difficulties seeing the big picture, matters.

Our brains being under a constant state of flux, like in this COVID disaster, can make seeing the big-picture difficult to near-impossible in real-time.

We know that early Adverse childhood Experiences, ACEs cause the developing brain to adapt to the way the world really is, and to see things differently. Some things become invisible, others can be greatly enlarged, core values alter, who we are is altered. This biological response is not limited to children - adult brains are also incredibly plastic.

News Flash: ACEs has recently been renamed PACEs - Positive & Adverse Childhood Experiences.

- This was the ACE communities (leadership & pres. Jane really) response to having it pointed out that Positive SUCCESS adapts (morphs, shrinks, grows, physically changes shape, alters) the BRAINS of Child (and Adult!) every bit AS MUCH as Negative ABUSE.

How ones perceptions are altered are IDENTICAL! In both cases, negative and positive, one will, completely unaware, change to focus on & be more reactive, and; more responsive to self v. group; to near v. far; to fast v. slow; to authoritan v. consensenus; to see things as black or white versus gray, etcettera.

Note that these changes are the very things that we believe literally define "who" we are. Yet - "Poof" significant change can occur quickly in both child and adult, mere days and weeks.

When change is also happening to those surrounding one, ones social group, this can dramatically increase both the speed of the change and how invisibile the change is to oneself Indeed, we humans are by far the MOST SOCIAL animal on the planet, not even ants come close. We cooperate in extended social groups of billions ones! These changes are BEHAVIORALLY TRANSMITTED. ones social group and oneself all completely unawares.

This is happening right now to our new Broward County, Florida, superintendent, Mrs. Cartwright, fyi.

Our brains morph so quickly and so severely in fact, that I suspect it may amost no longer still be possible to ask Mrs. Cartwright if she can see that she is making decisions now that would surprise an earlier version of herself, an imaginary copy made prior to her jumping into our boiling pot of water here in Broward. We should ask her - Soon - She may still be able to see herself in the actual process of changing from one way of seeing the world to another, straddling the fence - and her being able to see this change and to understand the biological forces driving it - may hopefully confer to her a larger perspective and increased degree of free-will in bringing about positive change (to end harmful biologically-driven cycles and invisible eugenic biases) here in Broward in fighting the libertarian-extremist eugenic genocide against the young, old, poor, and ill of Florida as he seeks to salvage his Legacy at the cost, so far, of tens of thousands of lives lost here in Florida that were preventable but for his intentional actions, as recorded on video in many speeches, to increase natural (herd) immunity in students by keeping schools open and not allowing mask or vaccine mandates, etcettera.

We have all at one time or another joked about growing up and changing into people as adults that we'd hardly recognize, or worse, be ashamed or disgusted at becoming. Our superintendent Mrs. Cartwright is even now ignoring hard data indicating schools must close NOW - Data that a mere two months ago she'd have grabbed up as a sword & shield to use waging mortal battle, her own life aside, against anyone saying otherwise. We have cute ways to joke about this invisible, unwanted & unasked-for brain morphing, such as saying we are just "being reasonable," "seeing both sides as equal," and "rationalizing." Sigh.

Onwards,

Michael

Last edited by Michael a Sirbola

At first my nose gets out of joint with change. Then I read on.  Jane, you nailed it again. PACEs is the way to go. I felt a weight come off my chest when it clicked in my head. I definitely  had positive childhood experiences.  

What an exciting time for your amazing organization and this important community. I wholeheartedly support the new name and look forward to participating in healing-centered work. Hearty congratulations and deep appreciation for all that you and your team have created.

Awesome!!! This is such an incredible journey to see unfolding. I so appreciate the normalization of the reparations that are needed from white people.

Can't wait to hear more about the HOPE Summit - and wondering if PACEs Connection is familiar with Kids at Hope and  partnership with Arizona State University for amazing hope-based science that's years in the making!

Fantastic!!  I’m applauding this shift!  I think many who have been doing this work for awhile have shifted focus from knowing individual trauma stories to implementing programming that provides support and healing from Trauma’s lingering effects. The TN Building Strong Brains curriculum uses the metaphor of having a fulcrum in our brains. When positive experiences are our story our world view is positive. When negative experiences are our story then our world view is negative.  The good news is now we’ve learned by adding positive experiences we can shift the fulcrum!  I saw that happen in one year at Topper Academy alternative high school where students didn’t want to go home for the summer because staff were now using a trauma informed - resilient focused approach.  The youth found school to now be a place of acceptance, inspiration and hope!  Keep leading the way Jane!

The new acronym is wonderful and resonates personally with me. The ACEs of my childhood happened in the context of other positive relationships and experiences. Although my ACEs impacted me in significant ways, nonetheless I was able to thrive. The concept of PACEs is reflected in the title of my memoir: Things Fell Apart, but the Center Held. 

In the author's note at the beginning of my book, I say this:  ". . .  if what I wrote helps people understand that abuse is not a one-time event whose effects can simply be forgotten, forgiven and prayed away, or helps them realize that unflinching love in action makes all the difference in the life of a child, then the candid telling of my tale will not have been in vain.

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