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Empowering Resilience to ACEs

 

The 16 Strong Project is dedicated to empowering resilience to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) through educational workshops, school partnerships, and community outreach. 16 Strong strives to continue conversations that help young people recognize and navigate the challenges they are facing as a result of ACEs. We believe that with strong support systems, healthy coping mechanisms and a positive mindset, the negative impacts of ACEs can be mitigated.

Our Every Voice Heard (EVH) Schools Program works to combat inherent biases by uplifting youth voices through education, resources, tips, training, research, workshops and lesson plans provided by the 16 Strong Project. EVH schools are committed to taking a proactive approach to student’s mental health and emotional well-being by providing a welcoming environment where all students' voices are heard, thus promoting a safe school environment where the needs and unique situations of all students can be effectively met. Professional-focused resources center on supporting school staff in understanding ACEs, corresponding statistics, and how to effectively assist their students who are facing adversity. Student-focused resources train students that they can and should advocate for themselves. These resources provide young people with language to express what they’re experiencing and strategies to proactively address the potential negative impacts. Interested in learning more or bringing Every Voice Heard to your school? Fill out the form on our website or email us at 16strongproject@gmail.com.

The Covid-19 pandemic has increased the prevalence of many sources of family stress which places children at greater risk of abuse and neglect. Studies indicate that when parents do not meet the emotional and physical needs of their children, whether it’s because of financial insecurity, illness in the family, or the declining mental health of a parent, children are more likely to face mental, physical and emotional health challenges. Additionally, when children are at home and not attending school, abuse is more likely to go unnoticed. Now more than ever, schools need to address these issues, and kids need to feel heard and supported. Whether stemming from prior conditions at home, new COVID-related issues or the new focus on racism as an adverse childhood experience, we can no longer assume we know better or assume who we “think needs help”. All kids have been affected. 

As we move forward during these challenging times, educators and those working directly with youth are in a unique position to support those young people who are facing adversity. Together we can prevent the negative impacts that are often associated with ACEs by helping youth understand that they are not alone, they are not to blame, and they can break the generational cycle of trauma.

About Samantha Wettje, Ed. M.

Samantha is the co-founder of the 16 Strong Project and an adolescent mental well-being advocate. She holds an Ed. M. from Harvard University in Human Development and Psychology. She created 16 Strong in response to what she experienced as a young person growing up with familial mental illness and addiction. Her work focuses on empowering resilience to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) through educational workshops, online resources and community outreach. Outside of 16 Strong, Samantha works with the EASEL lab at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) on the Navigating SEL from the Inside Out guide, as well as the Making Caring Common Project at HGSE on resources for college admissions officers to assess character and non-cognitive skills in applicants.

 

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