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Positive & Adverse Childhood Experiences (PACES) Hawai‘i
He ‘a‘ali‘i kū makani mai au; ‘a‘ohe makani nāna e kūla‘i.
I am a wind-withstanding ‘a‘ali‘i; no wind can topple me over.

The Seesaw of Resilience


An ecosystem's response to threat or disruption by a foreign entity is both "resistant" and "resilient," representing a natural defense mechanism to preserve, defend, and adapt to ensure life continues. The Center of the Developing Child at Harvard University has produced an insightful brief titled "The Science of Resilience," emphasizing the critical role of reducing significant adversity's effects on young children's healthy development for societal progress and prosperity. Governor Josh Green's executive order declaring Hawaiʻi as a "Trauma-informed State" is a commendable achievement, reflecting five years of dedicated advocacy for wellness and resilience in our communities. It is crucial to recognize that wellness and resilience are the pursuit, with trauma-informed care serving as one of the strategies to reach our destination.

"The Science of Resilience" uses a seesaw as an illustration, with one end representing "negative outcomes" and the other "positive outcomes." The key lies in balancing the seesaw by adding "weight" to the "positive outcomes" side when it tilts towards the negative. Advocacy for protective factor programming, preventative interventions, trauma-informed care professional development, and trauma-sensitive agencies is essential in achieving this balance.

The article outlines key points in the "Implications for Policy and Practice":

  1. Providing supportive adult-child relationships (co-regulation - my insights).
  2. Scaffolding learning to build a child's sense of self-efficacy.
  3. Helping strengthen adaptive skills and self-regulatory capacities.
  4. Using faith and cultural traditions as a foundation for hope and stability.

I've openly shared my daughter's medical crisis, battling end-stage liver disease, requiring a whole-liver transplant with numerous complications. Yesterday, she returned to softball, her first day of practice, thanks to the recommended policies and practices that tilted the "seesaw of resilience" in her favor. Each of the four recommended policies and practices tilted the “seesaw of resilience” in her favor when she needed positive outcomes to mitigate the effects of the adversity she faced. Her coach (and a list of others too many to count) provided supportive non-relative adult relationships. Through our discussions while she was in the ICU, on the floor and at the Ronald McDonald House we worked on post-traumatic growth and building her self-efficacy, she developed and strengthend her self-regulatory and adaptive skills by creating her own methods to restore calm induced by fear, pain and anxiety and we leaned heavily on our faith (our faith community) and cultural practices. Medical crisis, should be considered Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE), as it impacts body, mind, and spirit, affecting both the child and the family. Focusing on the "science of resilience" and surrounding ourselves with positive thoughts, programming, and activities can tilt the seesaw towards positive outcomes, leading to wellness and resilience."

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