Just moments into watching "Paper Tigers" last August, Angie Dillon Shore and Socorro Shiels found themselves wiping away tears. By the film's conclusion, Angie, a former youth counselor and current Upstream Investments Program Manager, and Socorro, then the Superintendent of Santa Rosa City Schools both felt compelled to take immediate action. What if together, these two women could bring the film to local educators and parents? Could the film change the conversation of how we currently serve our kids and families?
Paper Tigers follows six troubled teens over the course of a year at Lincoln High School, an alternative school in rural Walla Walla, WA, that specializes in educating traumatized youth. Then principal, Jim Sporleder, convinced his school that traditional punishments like suspension were only exacerbating the problems of the students. He invited staff and students to learn about the landmark Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, which shows that stressful events during childhood massively increases the risk of problems in adulthood. Angie and Socorro felt Paper Tigers is a testament to what the latest development science is proving: that one caring adult can help break the cycle of adversity in a young person’s life.
Angie and Socorro brought together their colleagues from Upstream and Santa Rosa City Schools, and planned two large community showings in January 2016. Excitement filled the air as more than 250 parents, teachers, counselors, Court Appointed Social Advocates, nurses and other concerned community members turned out for the film screenings offered at both Elsie Allen and Santa Rosa High School. Socorro welcomed the crowds and thanked everyone for taking a first step in coming together as a community to change conditions for families and kids.
After each film screening, community members found themselves feeling much like Socorro and Angie first felt every seeing the compelling film - moved to tears and moved to action. Small group discussions and surveys captured many reflections and ideas. Most folks rated their knowledge of Adverse Childhood Experiences before the film as “needs improvement – average.” After the film, attendees said their knowledge improved to “good – excellent!”
More than 85% of the audience members asked for more education around Adverse Childhood Experiences, and 70% asked for more work-based training about Trauma Informed Care. (Note: not all audience members were employed by agencies or organizations working with children.)
Many folks who watched the film expressed gratitude for the experience - the phrase "thank you" specifically came up in more 10% of the survey responses. Clearly, the movie provided a transformative experience for our community.
If you have yet to see this provocative and inspiring film, you may be able to attend another Sonoma County showing. It is very likely another "Angie" or "Socorro" are meeting up to plan using the film as a conversation changer in their own community setting! Stay tuned to our Events calendar for updates.