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PACEs Science Champions

Food insecurity, trauma, and poor health outcomes, OH MY!

This article was first published in RACMonitor and appears with explicit permission. Another week, another report on Americans facing concerning access to basic human needs. This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its annual report, Household Food Security in the United States in 2020 . Data for the report was collected from 34,330 households in December 2020, though at first glance, this is misleading. While 89.5 percent of U.S. households were “food secure” at that...

Louisiana’s first lady is on a mission to help improve the lives of children and families

Improving the lives of children is a personal calling for Louisiana first lady Donna Edwards. Before her husband, Gov. John Bel Edwards, took office in 2016, Donna Edwards spent eight years as a music teacher for her local public elementary school. She knew that many children in her classroom faced unknown hardships at home, but she didn’t realize how deeply trauma impacts children in different ways until 2017. That was the year that Dr. Charles Zeanah, a leading authority on adverse...

PACEs Champion Dwana Young navigates community-driven ACEs healing centers in New Jersey

In 2020, New Jersey, a state with about 9 million people spread over the rural countryside and dense urban areas like Newark, launched a new entity: the NJ Office of Resilience (NJOR). The NJOR is unusual because it is a public-private partnership. It brings together three private foundations as well as the NJ Department of Children and Families to provide community-driven strategies for preventing, treating, and healing from ACEs. Like a ship’s navigator laying out a course on charts, Dwana...

How the PACEs Connection Cooperative of Communities inspires an early affiliate, Resilient Santa Barbara County

If one were to spell out the benefits of joining PACEs Connection’s Cooperative of Communities (COOP), there is no better person to ask than Barbara Finch, co-lead for Resilient Santa Barbara County , which was one of the first four affiliates to join COOP. “The biggest benefit,” she says, “is recognizing that you are part of an expansive and growing movement. There are so many different approaches to the work, and every community has its own experience. What we have learned since joining...

Brandon Jones, ACEs Champion, lives a life with purpose…on purpose  

Brandon Jones describes himself this way: “I’m a down-to-earth psychotherapist, professor, and family man dedicated to helping those who want to heal.” Jones grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, which has been averaging a police-involved death every year over the past five years . Gun violence in African American, Somali, Latin x and indigenous gangs “have all found a home here in the Twin Cities . ” “George Floyd was the tip of the iceberg,” says the PACEs advocate, psychotherapist, consultant...

Psychiatrist Andres Sciolla wants to expand ACEs work to include social determinants of health

Andres Sciolla, a psychiatrist and professor of psychiatry at UC Davis Medical School, hopes that an expanded version of ACEs becomes completely integrated into the medical profession in the future. By “expanded,” he explains: “Medicine would have to integrate sustainable and practical ways to address social determinants of health,” such as affordable housing, basic income, and access to affordable health care. Sciolla earned his undergraduate and medical degrees at the University of Chile...

Morgan Vien views PACEs through a public health lens

Morgan Vien, the child of Vietnamese refugees and herself a San Francisco Bay Area native, says her ACE score is zero. That’s because she grew up with her parents and a younger brother “in a very safe and nurturing atmosphere.” It wasn’t until her junior year at Santa Clara University, where she earned a B.S. in public health science with minors in sociology and biology, that she learned about adverse childhood experiences — ACEs — in a public health class. That knowledge was...

Filmmaker Fritzi Horstman brings ACEs awareness to Compassion Prison Project

Fritzi Horstman grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan – not as posh as it is now, she says, but still a respectable, middle-class neighborhood. By the time she was 16, she had become a “juvenile delinquent, doing drugs and running around.” What happened? And why was her ACE score 8, when she finally assessed it nearly 40 years later? Domestic violence underscored her childhood and teen years, she says. Her father was an alcoholic and her mother a “rage-aholic” who abused her and her...

ACEs Champion: Carolyn Curtis brings ACEs healing to community networks through the ‘Mind Matters’ program

“Mind Matters: Overcoming Adversity and Building Resilience” builds on Carolyn Curtis’s lifetime experience. It is as if she had been predestined to teach people to overcome the adverse experiences in their lives. Like many of us, Curtis grew up in an alcoholic home. This gives her a deep understanding of the damage that comes from early childhood trauma – and a passion for helping others overcome it. Her experience eventually led her to become a marriage and family counselor. After 30...

ACEs Champion: Dr. Tasneem Ismailji finds her niche in promoting ACEs as scientific evidence for health effects of violence and abuse

Pediatrician Tasneem Ismailji is a cofounder and former president of the Academy on Violence and Abuse (AVA). Her Pakistani heritage and love of children have informed not only her career choices but also her decades-long commitment to the prevention of the health effects of violence and abuse. Born in the ancient city of Karachi, Pakistan, Ismailji was one of seven siblings — four girls and three boys — growing up in a loving Muslim family, where she spoke both Urdu and English. In the...

ACEs Champion: Child psychiatrist David Corwin's campaign against spanking rooted in ACEs science

Dr. David Corwin, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Utah School of Medicine, told me an astonishing fact recently: 61 countries around the world have banned spanking and hitting children, with another 50 pledging to do so. But the United States is far behind in addressing this kind of physical violence toward children. And that was just one of three amazing elements of my recent three-hour interview with him. No. 2: It was the longest interview I’ve ever conducted for this site.

Elizabeth Smith knits together families and communities through her own healing journey

(l to r) Elizabeth Smith and Peacetown board of directors: David, Amitiel, Jim aka Mr. Music, and Jasmine. Only eight years ago, Elizabeth Smith was experiencing severe chronic stress. Raising a young son on her own, she was employed as a technician at a county hospital in Northern California that had downsized staff and increased her workload , as well that of other staff. She was helping to raise the morale of her fellow workers and served as a liaison between staff and the administration,...

ACEs Champion: From a movie to a mission — Edwin Weaver's journey to help foster youth graduate from high school

(l to r) Elaine Miller Karas co-developer of CRM; Jim Sporleder, former principal of Walla Walla High School; and Edwin Weaver at the 2018 ACEs Conference & Pediatric Symposium in San Francisco. After watching the late Jamie Redford’s 2015 film, “ Paper Tigers ,” about a Washington state high school where ACEs integration transformed graduation rates, Edwin Weaver knew he had to take action. Weaver is the executive director of Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley , providing social services...

ACEs Champion: The reintroduction of Michael Hayes — from ACEs awakening to ACEs community service

It wasn’t until his fifth prison term in a North Carolina county jail — his fourth conviction for driving under the influence — that Michael Hayes volunteered to take an ACE survey that changed his life. The 48-year-old father of six sons and one daughter had spent a number of years in and out of prison. During his last term, to get some time out of the cell where he spent 16 hours a day, he volunteered to attend a class offered by RHA Health Services, a nonprofit that incorporates the...

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