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Whole People Series & Study Guide (


There's a fantastic five-part series, Whole People, done by PBS, "spotlighting the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) through personal and community stories. It explores the long-term costs to personal well-being and our society. While much work needs to be done, there are many innovative developments to prevent and treat ACES. We all play a role in becoming a whole people." 

It's amazing. The five topics covered are as follows:

  1. Childhood Trauma
  2. Healing Communities
  3. A New Response
  4. Family Solutions
  5. Healing Journeys

Each of the videos (above) is under a half hour long. All five have been aired and are online (for free). It also comes with an excellent study guide with questions, summary points, body-centered practices as well as some quotes (more information on the guide, below). 

Whole People

Here's a short excerpt from the Family Solutions segment I just watched with quotes from Maria McCoy, a Family Empowerment Coach, from the American Indian Family Center in St Paul, MN. 

"Some of our parents have grandparents and their own parents that were in the boarding school, so the parenting piece was disrupted in their family systems, because of that trauma it's still impacting how we parent our children."

Parenting Program

"The parenting program is really important to our community. We're still healing with historical trauma. Historical trauma is a wounding that happens so deep it encompasses the soul, that unresolved trauma in our ancestors lifetime that didn't get healed is passed on through the DNA into the next generation propelling out further and further into each generation and then we have our own life experiences, so if we have trauma in our own lifetime it becomes stacked within us."

healthy mom

"Our responsibility in this lifetime is to heal the trauma, and when we do our own healing work in this lifetime, we're healing our ancestors that didn't have the opportunity to heal that trauma.  And now we change our life path, and our behaviors change and we're also the mirror for our children and the next generations to come and it's called the string of lives - we're all connected."

Each episode is incredibly in-depth and also accessible. Though ACEs science is covered, it's not all about the brain but about the lives and hearts of people impacted by ACEs, however directly or indirectly. Each episode highlights what Father Paul Abernathy calls the blending of "community expertise and clinical expertise." It's about how individuals, families, communities and systems are changing themselves and each other.  

family so

"Connecting with the parent is the most important thing we can do. And so, for it being a safe and respectful relationship and a place to do that is the place to begin."
Michelle Berscheid

This series is worth your time even if you think you know all you need to know ACEs science, resilience, and trauma-informed change. There are new names, faces, stories, and approaches I've not heard about before as well as the most well-known and respected movement leaders. 

These videos can be shared by families and friends, used in schools or workplaces or by initiatives at community events. I don't know how long they will be available online but they are all still available now. We will be adding this PBS series to our ACEs Connection documentary screening guide as well (as long as it remains available for public viewing). 

Whole People Study Guide
There's a fairly extensive study guide to help with processing and group facilitation after watching each episode. It has questions, summary points, body-based practices as well as a few quotes and an ACEs-related pyramid I've not seen before.

Whole People Guide

The guide is co-written by Resmaa Menakem MSW, LICSW, S.E.P. of Justice Leadership Solutions, who appears in the series and is also author of My Grandmother's Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies) and Pam Beckering, MS, LPCC, CentraCare Health as CentraCare Health and Twin Cities PBS.

Whole People Previews 
There are also a series of 3-5 minute video snippets on these related topics if you want to quickly get a flavor for the series: 


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  • healthy mom
  • Parenting Program
  • Family Solutions
  • Whole People
  • family
  • family so
  • Whole People Guide

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