All of us at ACEs Connection have experienced ACEs during our childhoods, either in our own families or vicariously through friends; some of us accumulated pretty high ACE scores, with not enough resilience factors, and we’ve suffered the consequences.
That history propels us up and out of bed every single morning to grow this network of amazing people (that’s you!) to reach even more people so that kids don’t have to repeat what we went through. We want more of our taxes to go to such things such as parks and free education after high school and paid parental leave to allow new moms and dads plenty of time to bond with their babies to give them a good start in life. (I can envision a time when yes, we CAN let moms and dads take as much time off as they want!! Can’t you?) In this scenario, we don't see a need for poverty. I know that most of you joined AC because of the same history and those very same desires.
Most of you know ACEsConnection.com as a great way to keep up with the news about how people, organizations, systems and communities are integrating — or should be integrating — ACEs science and resilience into their lives and work. Some of you also use our Speakers & Trainers Bureau (fill out the application form if you want to join the 52 people there now). Or our interactive Mapping the Movement map that tracks the states that have done ACE surveys, U.S. laws & resolutions, ACEs Connection communities, and organizations participating in the National Council for Behavioral Health’s Trauma-Informed Learning Collaborative. (We’ll be adding more layers.) Our Resources Center is chock-full of information for you to use: ACEs presentations, research, books, reports, ACE and resilience surveys, etc.
However, a growing — nay, effervescing — part of ACEs Connection are the communities on ACEsConnection.com that support local ACEs initiatives.
After watching the documentaries Paper Tigers or Resilience or Broken Places, people practically jump out of their seats to shout: “How can I and my community stop school suspensions? How can we help kids learn better and keep them from being pushed into the school-to-prison pipeline? How can we prevent diabetes and other chronic diseases, and create a community where our kids — and all of us — flourish?”
Over the last six years, we’ve listened and heard you when you said you wanted guidance and tools to launch and grow ACEs initiatives. Today, more than 300 community sites representing ACEs initiatives in cities, counties, regions, states and nations are in some form of development on ACEs Connection to tackle all these questions. To do so, they’re using:
- Growing Resilient Communities 2.0 — a framework of guidelines that addresses the essentials of any ACEs initiative (educate, engage, activate, celebrate progress); provide links to different approaches, such as Self-Healing Communities or Northeast Tennessee's Trauma-Informed System of Care; as well as ACEs science presentations, handouts, mission and vision statements…everything you’ll need to launch an ACEs initiative. We’ve curated this from the pioneers who’ve developed ACEs initiatives, and, when things were needed, such as community measurement tools, we created them.
- Measurement tools — Such as the handy Inclusion Tool to make sure that your initiative is reaching all sectors and demographics of your community, and the Presentations Tracker, a nifty automated way to map the ACEs science presentations in your community by sector. So, far, 50 communities use them.
By the way…we aren’t saying: Use tools because tools are good to use. We’re saying: These tools will help you move faster through the process to get to where you want to go. To create trauma-informed schools that no longer need to suspend or expel students. To reduce emergency room visits by 30 percent. To reduce violent incidents to zero in trauma-informed juvenile detention facilities. To create Safe Babies Courts where 99 percent of the kids who participate suffer no further abuse. To reduce staff turnover in an organization from 21 percent to 3 percent. To decrease youth suicide by 98 percent. All these things have happened, and if one community can do them, all communities can do them all.
Change is hard and it takes time, so to grease the wheels, ACEs Connection’s community facilitators are there to help. Our community facilitators — Karen Clemmer (Northwest U.S. and Northern California), Donielle Prince (San Francisco Bay Area), Ingrid Cockhren (U.S. Midwest and Tennessee), Carey Sipp (Southeast U.S.), Cissy White (MidAtlantic, Northeast U.S. and Canada), Gail Kennedy, (Central and Eastern CA, Western U.S. and international), Lara Kain (Southern California) — assist people as they launch their ACEs initiatives. They facilitate the launch of the initiative’s community site on ACEsConnection.com so they’ll have their own independent news, sharing and archiving hub (after all, ACEsConnection.com IS a social network). They guide, empower and encourage communities to grow their ACEs initiatives, point them to resources, show them how to use our tools, and make connections. They show them the two big things to avoid. They also provide leadership development as they work with each initiative’s community managers. They’re just an email, text or phone call away.
We’re in the process of adding new tools, guidelines and services — all requested and designed with input from our communities — that we’ll launch this summer.
We’re thinking big: We want to reach a tipping point in the U.S. of communities that have launched ACEs initiatives. There are 34,000 cities and counties in the U.S., so our best guess is that a tipping point might be around 6,000 communities across the U.S.
What we’ll be learning along the way are things such as: What percentage of an individual community’s organizations need to be trauma-informed to create a tipping point in that community? Do all sectors need to be represented for a community to reach a tipping point? e.g., if most schools and health clinics become trauma-informed, will it matter that law enforcement isn’t? What percentage of a sector is the tipping point for that sector? e.g., is it 20 percent of schools? 30 percent? Is it the same for each sector? That information will be of great use to the 28,000 communities that come along behind you pioneers!
As more communities join this effort, we’ll continue to gather best practices to distribute to the entire ACEs community. There's no doubt that we, the people in the ACEs movement, are all in this together for the long haul, and we know can solve our most intractable problems!
As always, we welcome your feedback.