The long-awaited Community Resilience Cookbook launches today. We’ve been talking about the nine innovative communities that are leading the way in trauma-informed practices ever since the National Collaborative on Adversity and Resilience (NCAR) met in December 2013.
You can read about the five cities and four states in the U.S. and Canada that are growing collaborative initiatives in the cookbook’s Tastes of Success. These communities are raising awareness of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) research and implementing trauma-informed and resilience-building practices to prevent adversity and violence, promote healing, and to build a culture of health.
Accompanying the case studies are a graphic that summarizes the “essential ingredients” these communities have used to start down the trauma-informed path, an overview of the effects of toxic stress on the brain and body, a glossary of ACEs words, ACEs by the numbers, and a foreword by Dr. Robert Anda, co-principle investigator of the CDC-Kaiser ACE Study.
The Health Federation of Philadelphia, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation produced the cookbook, which is a companion to the proceedings of the NCAR report released in June 2014. The aim of NCAR is to develop strategies to accelerate the spread of awareness of the impact of ACEs and the possibilities for recovery and prevention.
We’ll post the case studies individually on ACEsTooHigh and on ACEsConnection, and we’ll post discussions about it as part of the NCAR Virtual Summit. The first discussion, inspired by Dr. Anda’s foreword, asks: When you learned about ACEs, how did you become empowered? If you’re interested in having your community become trauma-informed, contact any one of the community managers on ACEsConnection — Jasmine Pettis, Elizabeth Prewitt, Alicia St. Andrews or Jane Stevens.
*** This is a series of short articles about ACEsConnections members and the work they are doing to implement practices based on ACEs research.***
Over her 40 years in health care, Rona Renner has been a registered nurse, parenting coach, temperament specialist, a radio show host, and most recently an author -- her first book, Is That Me Yelling? was published in May.
If you picked out “radio show host” as the profession that doesn’t quite fit with the rest, you’d be right. Renner was teaching parenting classes at Kaiser Permanent Richmond Medical Center and a man got up at the end of a class on discipline and said, "Now I know why I shouldn't hurt my child."
It was such a profound moment for her that she knew right then that she had to find a way for people to hear this man’s story. She believed radio would give her the platform she wanted to reach a large group of parents and for them to share with each other as well as hear from professionals. Renner was able to produce and host a live weekly call in radio show titled Childhood Matters on the popular Bay Area station 98.1 KISS FM; she hosted the show for 10 years.
Renner learned about the ACE Study from Dr. Vincent Felitti and Dr. Brigid McCaw. When Felitti came to do a presentation at Kaiser, McCaw invited Renner to hear him, since ACEs is so relevant to the parenting classes she taught. “When I wanted to do a show with him, I just asked when he would be in the Bay Area,” she said.
When she met Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, she also invited her to appear on Childhood Matters. “I first met Dr. Burke when we were both on ABC7 TV show, View From The Bay,” says Renner. “She was doing a segment and I was doing one, and we got to talking in the green room. She was always quite generous with her time, and I loved having her on as a guest.”
There were many other shows related to ACE's that Renner did over the years, including sexual abuse, domestic violence, divorce, corporal punishment and others. After learning of the ACE Study and her interviews with Felitti and Burke Harris, Rebber felt confirmed and even more dedicated to helping parents so they could do their best raising their children.
“At Kaiser Richmond we always had the parenting classes free and open to the community,” says Renner. “I wanted to reach out to parents to let them know they weren't alone and that there were resources for them when times were hard. It also motivated me to talk more with parents in person and on the radio about child sexual abuse and other subjects that were often seen as taboo to talk about.”
When Renner began the radio show she was still working at Kaiser Richmond as a temperament counselor and parent educator, as well as with the ADHD best practice committee and the Reach Out and Read Program. Although she loved her job at Kaiser, the non-profit she started to produce the radio show, which broadcast in English and Spanish, needed her full attention. She left Kaiser in 2005.
The classes, the radio show, raising her own children, and watching the stress parents are under inspired her to write Is That Me Yelling? “My own experience in learning to manage my emotions, become more mindful, and reduce my reactivity,” was also motivation to write the book, says Renner.
In Renner’s parenting groups and classes, she often heard parents speak of being stressed out and having a lack of support. That led them to yell at their children and be impatient. She recalled a conversation she had with a group of parents who said they found themselves doing what was done to them as children, even if they didn't want to. Disciplinary actions (verbal and physical) were being passed down form generation to generation.
Renner’s classes, and her approach in facilitating the classes effectively, became very much about the parents themselves accepting and realizing their own ACEs and understanding that there are consequences to how they treated their children.
Rona says the purpose of Is That Me Yelling? is, “to compassionately reach out to parents about the consequences of yelling and other forms of negative reactivity towards children. I was hoping to help parents reflect on their discipline practices and consider respectful ways to teach their kids. I wanted the book to be about a parents’ own growth and their ability to understand their child's behavior, and act on what is needed. It's so important that parents see that we all make mistakes, and that through understanding our mistakes, we can change.”
Renner is enthusiastic about learning more about ACEs and continuing to talk to parents and other professionals about the study. She expressed how happy she was that upon mentioning ACEs to other health care professionals, many now know what it is.
Renner does consulting and trainings for First 5 Alameda County. At a First 5 workshop for health professionals on diverse approaches to discipline, she mentioned the CDC’s ACE Study, and how important it is for everyone to understand that what happens in childhood impacts an adult’s health.
Renner is a member of ACEsConnection and would like further information on how to incorporate ACEs into parenting curriculum, and would like to connect with other people who are doing this.
Jasmine Pettis, MPH, CLE
Rona Renner, RN
Author of "Is That Me Yelling?"
A Parent's Guide to Getting Your Kids to Cooperate Without Losing Your Cool
It is becoming increasingly obvious that the benefits of regular exercise go far beyond what was thought of conventionally. Of course exercise can help you lose weight, feel better, increase strength and reduce risk of injury. It also increases bone density, reduces anxiety, combats depression and prevents heart disease. But these are just some of the effects we have mentioned in previous columns. What’s truly amazing is these effects only scratch the surface of what can be gained by exercising regularly. There is one more effect which we are coming to understand more fully, and that is that exercise actually makes you smarter. There is a steadily growing mountain of evidence that proves that regular exercise is directly linked to improved brain health and function.
At some level, this has always been known. It was Plato who said, “In order for man to succeed in life, God provided him with two means, education and physical activity. Not separately, one for the soul and the other for the body, but for the two together. With these two means, man can attain perfection.”
States face no real federal pressure to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system, a new report says.
The report by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, to be formally released in early October, recommends that the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention strengthen a core requirement of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act on reducing racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system.
The JJDPA specifies that states must address disproportionate minority contact (DMC) with the juvenile justice system, but doesn’t say they must reduce it.
Ever since the release of A Nation at Risk in 1983, schools have become a battleground for opposing views about how best to educate our children. Battle lines have formed around such contentious issues as whether parents should have the option of choosing charter schools rather than traditional public schools; whether teachers should be evaluated on the basis of the performance of their students on standardized tests; and whether adoption of a standard curriculum across the country will raise student performance on those tests.
All of these issues focus attention on schools without considering the lives of the students who attend them. But performing well in school requires a home life that is relatively free of stress, with nurturing parents who can provide the needed support and direction. And as we move down the economic ladder, these resources become ever more scarce. A conservative estimate suggests that one in every five children live in families without the financial resources to allow their children these luxuries. And the results show up in the schools where children are expected to focus attention on teachers and learning. Unfortunately, students who live in these households are much less able to concentrate on schooling. Instead, they must cope with stressed parents who are too busy making ends meet to provide an environment conducive to academic development.
To increase these children's success, we need to invest in their families' mental health. Our growing understanding of the importance of emotional well-being is spurring interest in the promotion of mental health, rather than just the treatment of disorder.
The sordid Ray Rice scandal has opened a much-needed dialogue about domestic violence.
In February Rice and Janay Palmer, then his fiancée and now his wife, had an altercation at an Atlantic City casino that left Palmer unconscious. A tape surfaced of Rice dragging Palmer’s limp body from the elevator, hovering over her. At no point does he appear to attend to her, appear shocked at what he has done to her or appear to have much concern for her at all.
He doesn’t even pull down her skirt.
The next month a grand jury indicted Rice on a charge of third-degree aggravated assault.
The Baltimore Ravens’ coach, John Harbaugh, stood by Rice, saying, “He will be part of our team,” and continuing:
“He’s a person of character. The thing that’s really important is to be able to support the person without condoning the action. He makes a mistake. There’s no justifying what happened. When you drink too much in public, those kind of things happen.”
Whatever one may think of Rice’s character, “those kind of things” don’t just “happen.” That is too casual a dismissal of a very serious issue.
Resilience, the subject of a large-scale study published recently in The Gerontologist, reminds me of what a Supreme Court justice once said of pornography: It’s hard to define, but we know it when we see it.
We’ve all noticed resilience’s effects, haven’t we? Most older people cope with several chronic diseases and have encountered losses and challenges. Some seem to withdraw into isolation and inactivity even when they remain relatively strong.
Others respond more like the late Evelyn Nade, whom I met in a New Jersey nursing home a few years ago. She was 82 then, a wheelchair user who couldn’t rise from her bed without two aides using a mechanical hoist — yet she was the sunniest person in the place, the president of the residents’ council, the founder of a Red Hat Society chapter and a formidable poker player.
Age, health and finances can’t fully explain such disparities, so social scientists are constantly exploring other factors that might play a role.
People disagree, quite strenuously, on the best curriculum for teaching children to read. But all participants in the reading wars agree on some other things: Early reading is crucial — a child who does not read proficiently by third grade will probably fall further and further behind each year. American schools are failing: two out of three fourth graders don’t read at grade level.
And they agree on something else: any reading curriculum works better if children who are struggling get the chance to work, one on one, with a tutor.
“If I were a principal, I’d spend my money on tutoring,” said Robin Jacob, an assistant research scientist at the University of Michigan’s School of Education. “If I could afford to spend it on tutoring with a trained teacher, I would do that. We’ve known for a long time that a trained teacher, one on one, is very effective.”
The problem, of course, is that very few principals can afford it. A single teacher dedicated to individual tutoring can work effectively with a small number of children each week. How many teachers would be needed to help all struggling students? The schools where tutoring is most needed, moreover, are those that can least afford it.
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