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Southern Kenai Peninsula ACEs Connection (AK)

This group is dedicated to actualizing a Southern Kenai Peninsula, Alaskan community that cultivates healthy relationships and resilient families free of violence and substance abuse.

Recent Blog Posts

Scholarships now available for Mind Matters Now!

Has the pandemic stressed you out?

Want to learn the self-soothing skills of Mind Matters: Overcoming Adversity and Building Resilience directly from the author, Dr. Carolyn Curtis?

Good news! The Dibble Institute has received generous funding for scholarships to the online, full 12-lesson series, Mind Matters Now. The course helps teachers, social workers, medical professionals, and others manage their stress by building resilience skills and practices for mental well-being. (CEUs are available for $40.)

Complete the application here to apply for one of the Mind Matters Now scholarships (value $49). If approved, you will then be emailed a coupon code.

If you have questions, please email us.

The Hidden Biases of Good People: Implicit Bias Awareness Training

The Dibble Institute is pleased to present an introductory webinar by Rev. Dr. Bryant T. Marks Sr. of the National Training Institute on Race and Equity, which will provide foundational information on implicit bias. It will focus at the individual level and discuss how implicit bias affects everyone. Strategies to reduce or manage implicit bias will be discussed.

Broadly speaking, group-based bias involves varying degrees of stereotyping (exaggerated beliefs about others), prejudice (dis/liking others), and/or discrimination (unequal treatment of others) that occur above or below conscious awareness. Scholars have labeled the subconscious form of group-based bias implicit or unconscious bias. Implicit bias is primarily seen as an attitude or stereotype held about social groups below conscious awareness. Implicit bias has become very important to understand given the decreased frequency of Americans to freely and openly express negative thoughts, feelings and behaviors regarding other racial groups. Implicit bias is everywhere and affects everyone. We all have implicit bias. The impact of our implicit bias on others, however, significantly depends on our social and professional roles in society. Bias held by educators, police officers, physicians, prosecutors and criminal court judges can significantly affect the life outcomes of large segments of society.

Research has revealed that many Americans show a positive implicit bias toward White Americans vs. African Americans, young vs. old and fit vs. obese. Showing a preference for or against any particular group does not mean that a person is prejudiced or will discriminate, but it does suggest that s/he has been repeatedly exposed to certain associations between specific groups and specific traits/characteristics and have stored them in memory. These associations are often very strong and difficult to undue without deliberate effort or ongoing training. It is possible, however, to implement practices or policies that reduce the likelihood that implicitly biased beliefs will lead to biased behaviors.

Participants will understand:

  • What is implicit bias?
  • What does implicit bias look like in the real world?
  • What causes implicit bias?
  • How is implicit bias measured?
  • How does implicit bias affect the person who holds the bias?
  • How does implicit bias affect the attitudes and behaviors of the target group?
  • How can implicit bias be reduced/managed at the individual level?

Presenters: Rev. Dr. Bryant T. Marks, Sr., Professor, Morehouse College
When: Wednesday, November 10, 2021, 9:00 am Pacific/12:00 pm Eastern
Duration: 3 hours
Cost: $35.00 per person

Me & My Emotions: A New, Free Resource for Teens

The pandemic has had a lasting effect on youth mental health. Moved by a desire to reduce youth’s toxic stress and increase their resilience, The Dibble Institute, in partnership with a team of students and alumni from ArtCenter College of Design and author Carolyn Curtis, PhD, is releasing Me & My Emotions—a new, free adaptation of our beloved Mind Matters Curriculum.

The mobile-friendly Me & My Emotions website features engaging graphics and bite-sized lessons teens can access and practice any time. This digital experience for teens aligns with the same skill sets available in Mind Matters:

  • Self-Soothing and Mindfulness Practices
  • Managing Stress Effectively
  • Developing Empathy
  • Developing a life of Intention
  • Building and Using a Support System

Check out Me&My Emotions today and share widely!

FREE WEBINAR: The Impact of Mind Matters: Preliminary Evidence of Effectiveness in a Community-Based Sample

Becky Antle, Ph.D., Professor of Social Work and esteemed University Scholar at the University of Louisville, won The Dibble Institute’s national competition to evaluate Mind Matters: Overcoming Adversity and Building Resilience in 2019. As a result, Dr. Antle and her colleagues have conducted a randomized controlled trial to examine the impact of Mind Matters on a host of outcomes related to trauma symptoms, emotional regulation, coping and resiliency, and interpersonal skills for at-risk youth in a community-based sample. Youth in the study reported high levels of childhood trauma and related trauma symptoms upon entry into the program. Following provision of this evidence-informed program by trained providers within community-based organizations, youth reported a reduction in trauma symptoms and improvement in resiliency despite a number of complicating risk factors and across multiple demographic groups.

Join the researchers on this project as they discuss their most recent findings from the pilot of Mind Matters with high-needs youth in the Louisville community. They will focus on youth-related outcomes, lessons learned, and tips for implementing the Mind Matters curriculum in a variety of settings with at-risk youth.

Specifically, webinar attendees will learn:

  1. How Mind Matters is being implemented in community partnership for at-risk youth with fidelity
  2. How Mind Matters is being evaluated using rigorous process and outcomes evaluation methods
  3. How Mind Matters is making a difference in the lives of youth served
  4. How to use effective implementation and facilitation skills to provide Mind Matters to youth across a variety of settings to achieve positive outcomes

Presenter: Becky Antle, Ph.D., MSSW, MFTA, Professor and University Scholar, Director Center for Family and Community Well-Being, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY.

Who should attend: Program managers, educators, practitioners, community workers, evaluators, policy makers, advocates, counselors, trauma workers, curriculum reviewers, and anyone interested in working with youth.

When: Wednesday, October 13, 2021, 4:00 pm Eastern/1:00 pm Pacific

Duration: 60 minutes

Cost: Free!

Behavioral health means resilience and well-being []

By Cathy Giessel, Anchorage Daily News, May 2, 2021

Alaskans love to fish! Already, trips to favorite fishing places are being planned, and dreams of big catches dreamed.

So, imagine standing on the shore of your favorite river when suddenly you see a person being swept downstream, thrashing to keep their head above water. We would, in an instant, make every effort to rescue that person and get them on solid, safe ground.

Let me connect this drowning person to problems our community experiences: crime, homelessness and Alaska’s poor reading scores.

[Please click here to read more.]

“Why does this affect so many people?” (Pro Publica)

By Adriana Gallardo, Nadia Sussman and Agnes Chang, ProPublica, and Kyle Hopkins and Michelle Theriault Boots, Anchorage Daily News, June 1, 2020.

Alaska has the highest rate of sexual assault in the nation. These women and men did not choose to be violated, but they now choose to speak about what happened.

ALASKA HAS the highest rate of sexual assault in the nation, nearly four times the national average. About one third of women in Alaska have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime. Yet it is a secret so steeped into everyday life that to discuss it is to disrupt the norm.

These 29 women and men did not choose to be violated, but they now are choosing to speak about what happened to them.

Last year, the Anchorage Daily News partnered with ProPublica to investigatesexual violence in Alaska, and explore why the situation isn’t getting

[Please click here to read more.]

Alive and Well: Moving Missouri Toward Grass-Roots and System-Wide Change

On the eastern edge of Missouri, leaders of the Alive and Well network had generated a robust media campaign to help people understand the impact of trauma and toxic stress on health and well-being. There was a monthly column in an African-American newspaper, spots about toxic stress and resilience on urban radio stations and weekly public service features on the NBC affiliate, with physicians, clergy and teachers advocating ways to “be alive and well.”

Two hundred and fifty miles to the west, a similar cross-sector coalition, Resilient KC, was sponsoring workshops, hosting a learning collaborative and recruiting community “ambassadors” who could bring the science of ACEs and resilience to clients, colleagues and policy-makers in business, the armed services, education, justice and health care.

On both sides of the state, those networks saw their grant funding trickling to an end. So they decided to join forces, share strategies and form a not-for-profit organization that could spread the impact of their work across Missouri and the region.

Resilient KC—a partnership between a pre-existing network, Trauma Matters Kansas City (TMKC), and the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce—was one of 14 locales to receive a two-year Mobilizing Action for Resilient Communities (MARC) grant. The work drew interest from the local arts community, the Kansas City Royals and the police; Captain Darren Ivey became a tireless champion, consulting with other police departments and designing trainings on vicarious trauma.

But as the MARC grant drew to a close in 2017, Resilient KC leaders thought about how, “if we really want to sustain the movement and think about where we are going in Kansas City, we need to be a not-for-profit,” says Marsha Morgan, who helped launch TMKC while working as chief operating officer of Truman Medical Center’s department of behavioral health.

Members of the Kansas City Public Schools community assess their progress in moving through the stages of change outlined in the Missouri Model for Trauma Informed Schools, developed by the Missouri Trauma Roundtable and the Alive and Well Communities Education Leaders Work Group, with the support of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and America’s Promise Alliance. Photo courtesy of Alive and Well Communities.

Meanwhile, leaders of Alive and Well St. Louis, under the auspices of the regional health commission, knew that their mission—increasingly focused on racial equity—had grown beyond the bounds of a health-focused organization.

“We kept turning to our partners in Kansas City to ask, ‘How do we do this?’ We shared information and expertise. We were both trying to solve the same problems,” says Jennifer Brinkmann, now president of Alive and Well Communities, launched as a 501c3 in early 2018.

Alive and Well built a structure that reflects the network’s aim to make change both at the “hyper-local” and institutional levels. To accomplish that, the network recruited 500 “ambassadors,” community volunteers who attend a two-hour trauma awareness training and elect a steering committee— one in St. Louis, and one in Kansas City—to set priorities and drive the work locally.

In St. Louis, Alive and Well also hires neighborhood residents—individuals who are interviewed, trained and paid an hourly rate to deliver workshops on trauma, self-care and community care.

A 13-member volunteer board of directors—including the two co-chairs of each steering committee—holds financial responsibility for Alive and Well. They include representatives from academia, health care, human services and the faith-based community.

Alive and Well also joined the national Building Community Resilience Collaborative—a means of having an impact on federal legislation, such as a recent appropriations bill that included guidance to address health disparities and the trauma of racism.

For Ave Stokes, director of Kansas City programming for Alive and Well, listening and flexibility are key to engaging a racially and economically diverse range of residents. That may mean changing the place or time of events—locating them in different neighborhoods, holding them in the afternoon or evening to accommodate people with varied work schedules. “Let people in communities tell you what works for them,” he says.

Stokes cites the success of the “impact series,” discussions in Kansas City public libraries focusing on the links between trauma and child abuse, domestic violence or black maternal health; the sessions are meant to inform and empower listeners to take action. Between 80 and 250 people have attended each one.

Leaders on both sides of the state note the added value of cross-sector efforts: when schools in Johnson County brought together representatives from public health, education, law enforcement and mental health to focus on the needs of high-risk students, or when the Kansas City police department added five social workers to its staff, or when Alive and Well hosted a 2019 convening of 200 people to hammer out a common vision and language for building trauma-informed communities across the region.

One ongoing challenge, says Brinkmann, is keeping up with the demand for training and assistance that goes beyond a baseline understanding of ACEs and trauma. Alive and Well provides that support—in fact, such paid consulting work helps fund the network’s community-based efforts—but the work is time-intensive and can be out of reach for the cash-strapped organizations that may need it most.

“There are some communities in rural Missouri that are saying, ‘We need Alive and Well here,’ but we don’t have the bandwidth to provide support at that level,” she says. “I think for the work to have the impact we all want it to have, we’re going to have to get into policy change work. Teaching people about ACEs is just scratching the surface.”

Morgan agrees. “We need to spend time in an organization to help them put in the structure, to really help them understand and provide intervention at a different level. We need to move from awareness to responsiveness.”

She, Brinkmann and Stokes would like to see more involvement from the corporate and business sector, from justice and probation systems, and from primary care health practitioners. Still, they are heartened by Alive and Well’s achievements: 251 trainings, reaching more than 5,000 participants, in 2019; the publication of the Missouri Model for Trauma-Informed Schools; surveys indicating that 99% of attendees in St. Louis community empowerment workshops said the trainings would change their behavior.

“For me, it’s extremely rewarding to be in community with our ambassadors—people who care so deeply about making their communities better,” says Brinkmann. “It’s in those moments that I find hope that we can get there, collectively.”

Anndee Hochman is a journalist and author whose work appears regularly in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Broad Street Review and in other print and online venues. She teaches poetry and creative non-fiction in schools, senior centers, detention facilities and at writers' conferences.

This article originally appeared on Mobilizing Action for Resilient Communities (MARC) on April 28, 2020. MARC provides tools and inspiration—by networks, for networks—using the science of ACEs to build a just, healthy and resilient world. Visit for more.

Mining the “lessons learned” from trauma legislation successes

R to L:  Jeff Hild, Rep. Geran Tarr, Afomeia Tesfai
The planned agenda for the “Advancing Trauma-Informed Public Policy through Effective Advocacy” workshop at the 2018 ACEs Conference: Action to Access went out the window when an unexpected guest— California Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula, MD—was invited to open the session and join the other participants in lively exchanges about their advocacy experiences and perspectives on hot button issues such as parental separation and economJoaquin Arambula, MDic supports for families.  As a physician, Arambula said that the trauma caused by placing people in cages at the border violated the principle in medicine “First, do no harm.”  In the question and answer segment, he praised the strategies to prevent child abuse and neglect as outlined in a CDC technical package for distilling and elevating the fundamental supports needed by families to thrive. 

With the goal of strengthening participants’ understanding of the policy development and implementation process, panelists used two cases studies—one national and one state—to demystify the intricacies of the legislative process.

Jeff Hild, policy director, Milken Institute School of Public Health at The George Washington University, presented a case study of how trauma-informed provisions first included the Heitkamp-Dubin “Trauma-Informed Care for Children and Families Act, S. 774” made their way into the recently passed opioid legislation (H.R. 6).  (See this article in ACEs Connection for a description of this process). I then presented an overview of trends in state legislation, providing a context for the second case study on a major policy victory in Alaska.  Some of the information on legislation came the National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) tracking of bills related to adverse childhood experiences.  This resource—available on its website—reflects how the issue of trauma-informed policy has gained traction in recent years with both legislators and the public.

Rep. Geran Tarr, who was elected to the Alaska House of Representatives in 2012, said working to make Alaska trauma-informed is a passion for her because of the district she represents and her own personal history.  She described her district as low-income, diverse, and too familiar with gun violence. She also said—in her first public declaration—that her ACE score is either 9 or 10.  If the ACE includes jail as well as prison, her score is 10.

Tarr presented the featured state level case study on how SB 105 was enacted in the 2018 session to require state policy to:

“acknowledge and take into account the principles of early childhood and youth brain development and, whenever possible, consider the concepts of early adversity, toxic stress, childhood trauma, and the promotion of resilience through protective relationships, supports, self-regulation, and services.”

Tarr described how another bill, House Concurrent Resolution 2, appeared to be failing for the second try when a last minute opportunity emerged to add the language to a bill that was moving through the legislature.  The end result is that the language is now in statute, giving it more authority than if passed as a resolution.  Already, state agency heads have met to discuss how the provision wiAlaska Resilience Initiative reportll be implemented.

The advocacy of the Alaska Resilience Initiative (ARI) in this legislative victory was also included in Rep. Tarr’s case study and is detailed in an ACES Connection story on the passage of SB 105 by ARI Director Laura Norton Cruz.  A policy brief, written by Andrea Blanch, PhD, “Toward a Trauma-Informed, Resilient, and Culturally-Responsive Alaska,” is also available on the ARI website, along with a detailed description of how the SB 105 victory was achieved

The original plan for the workshop included roundtable discussions with suggested topics such as how to address a specific policy goal, how to develop their advocacy skills, or get organized to undertake legislative action.  The session moderator, Afomeia Tesfai, policy and advocacy manager, Center for Youth Wellness, encouraged participants to build on what they learned at the workshop to develop local strategies with other advocates in their communities.  A handout to guide these discussions was provided. 

Many of the workshop strategies and specifics of legislative initiatives also were covered in a webinar series—State Policy Approaches to Address Childhood Adversity— sponsored by 4CA (the California Campaign to Counter Childhood Adversity) archived here.  A final webinar will be announced soon that addresses specific strategies for California. 

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