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PACEs Science Champions

Karen Bacigalupo cements PACES into elementary education

For the past three years, Karen Bacigalupo, as assistant principal at Fall-Hamilton Elementary, part of the Metro Nashville Public Schools, worked with former principal Mathew Portell to integrate PACEs into their school. Bacigalupo took over as principal last March when Portell joined PACEs Connection as director of communities. Although she had heard about the science of positive and adverse childhood experiences through social media and in her research over the past six years, it was only...

PACEs Champion BJ Adkins, Kentucky’s PACEs Rainmaker

BJ (Betty) Adkins shares her passion for helping communities overcome trauma as coleader of a team that is seeding PACEs throughout Kentucky. Starting with a planning grant from the Foundation for Healthy Kentucky in 2012, her team of community stakeholders initiated the Bounce Coalition . Bounce reaches educators, administrators, service providers, and parents throughout Kentucky counties who are adopting the Bounce trauma-informed model. More than 16,000 people have been trained in ACEs...

Judge Sheila Calloway integrates PACEs science into juvenile justice

Judge Sheila Calloway says she had “absolutely no idea that I wanted to become a lawyer” when she was growing up in Louisville, Kentucky. But looking back over her fourth-grade papers, which her mother had proudly saved, she found an essay she wrote in which she said she wanted to be a lawyer and help people. And she has. After stints in the Metro Public Defender’s Office and the Juvenile Court in Metropolitan Nashville & Davidson County, TN, she was elected juvenile court judge in 2014.

PACEs champion Rebeccah Ndung’u launches trauma-informed schools in Kenya

Growing up as the eldest daughter in a family of three girls and three boys in Nairobi, Kenya, Becky Ndung’u and all her siblings attended school, which is mandatory for children ages six through 14. Her parents—both farmers and her father also a lifelong government accountant—were committed to providing all their children a good education. Her education began in a public school, followed by a private high school. Our conversation was conducted in English, but Ndung’u is also fluent in her...

Mathew Portell: From vagabond student to PACEs-informed educator to PACEs Connection director of communities

It took eight years for Mathew Portell to get an undergraduate degree. Not sure what to major in, the self-described, “free-spirited vagabond” matriculated at more than a handful of colleges and universities throughout the Midwest while working low-paying jobs to support himself. Yet this month, Portell was hired as director of communities for PACEsConnection, where he will help our Growing Resilient Communities and Cooperative of Communities programs find the resources our network provides...

Filmmaker Tom Weidlinger confronts his own ACEs while discovering his father’s hidden past

Tom Weidlinger, an award-winning documentary filmmaker and author, realized his childhood was traumatic when he was a teenager. He tells the story in his memoir, The Restless Hungarian. He was in a car with his mother. She had just picked him up from boarding school where he had been sent after his parent’s divorce. She was speeding and swerved violently off the road. “We almost had a crash,” he said, still shaken by the close call with death. “Didn’t you see him,” his mother asked, “the man...

My positive childhood experiences tree

This is the third of three stunning illustrations showing how PACEs (positive and adverse childhood experiences) affected the family of Cendie Stanford, graphic artist and founder of the nonprofit ACEs Matter. This one looks at her positive childhood experiences. The day before her 16th birthday, Cendie Stanford’s older brother was shot and killed by a young man who, just two years earlier, had been her boyfriend. “I was heartbroken that two people I loved were out of my life forever,” says...

My ACEs family tree: Life after ACEs

This is the second of two stunning illustrations showing how adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) affected the family of Cendie Stanford, founder of the nonprofit ACEs Matter. Each leaf represents a family member affected by ACEs, and the health consequences they suffered. When Cendie Stanford, founder and president of ACEs Matter , finished drawing “My ACEs Tree—Genealogy” —she saw clearly the remarkable number of ACEs her grandparents, parents, children and extended family had experienced.

Christopher Freeze: From FBI Special Agent to hope-centered and ACEs science informed leadership advocate

An FBI Special Agent for 23 years, the last three as the Special Agent in Charge of all operations and activities in the State of Mississippi, Christopher Freeze was well acquainted with the pervasive and generational effects of ACEs, or adverse childhood experiences. But during most of his tenure with the FBI, Freeze says, “ACEs was not on my radar at all.” Freeze’s Southern accent belies his roots in Manchester, Tennessee, a small town 50 miles outside of Nashville, where he milked cows...

A world filled with people who have four or more ACEs is a world filled with people who need to meet a compassionate person. – Cendie Stanford

Cendie Stanford says that ever since she first learned about ACEs, she’d been thinking about her own upbringing—which included at least 10 ACEs. She felt strongly that everyone needed to know about ACEs, because it “explains why people behave the way they behave.”

PACEs Champion Wanda Boone: A resilience rainmaker

WANDA BOONE: A RESILIENCE RAINMAKER Wanda Boone, executive director of a North Carolina nonprofit, Together for Resilient Youth (TRY), to combat youth and adult substance use, not only raised three children of her own but also fostered seven children with mental health and substance use challenges. Despite – or perhaps because – of her own high ACEs score, Boone said that early on she decided “my main goal in life was to be a fantastic wife and mother.” She’s exceeded her goal in many ways.

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