Paper Tigers documents a year in the life of students and staff at Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, WA. After learning about the impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACE) on health, behavior, and well-being throughout the life course, Lincoln's administrators, staff and health care providers led an effort to radically change their approach to discipline, classroom activities, and even how children access health care. The ACE study and, more significantly, research on resilience point to the incredible impact that just one caring adult can have on protecting children from the effects of adversity and toxic stress. This changed the way staff like Alison Kirby, MD, FAAP, medical director/co-founder of The Health Center at Lincoln, and science teacher, Erik Gordon, approached their work. Gordon began to realize, "The behavior isn't the kid. The behavior is a symptom of what is going on in their life." While Dr Kirby quickly changed her expectation that she would be spending 90% of her time "treating asthma, infections, [and] stitches" to discovering that 90% of her work would be spent focusing on the students' mental health. And in three years Lincoln became a promising model for how to break the cycles of poverty, violence and disease that affect families. Despite the upheaval in their home lives, with support from school staff, including a pediatrician and mental health counselors, students at Lincoln now find less destructive ways to cope and have started to find hope for becoming healthy and productive - both now and for the rest of their lives.
Join us to see how the experience at Lincoln can shape the way pediatricians and communities around the country can respond effectively to children and adolescents who have experienced adversity and toxic stress.