Members of the ACEs Connection online community are well aware that experiencing significant adversity during childhood can lead to a myriad of negative health, mental health, social, and behavioral outcomes throughout the life course. The growing body of research around adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can, at times, leave us feeling overwhelmed. As advocates for child health and wellbeing, we may ask ourselves, “how can we treat individuals who have multiple ACEs?”, “how can we prevent this from happening in the first place?”, “how can we convince people in positions of power that this should be a priority?”, “how can we build resilience in our communities?”.
Approximately 75 ACE advocates from 14 different cities convened in Philadelphia on November 9th and 10th to begin to develop answers to those very questions. The Mobilizing Action for Resilient Communities (MARC) Convening, was the beginning of a multi-year project run by the Health Federation of Philadelphia and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
As a staff member to the Philadelphia ACE Task Force, it was humbling to meet folks from around the country working toward building resilience in their own communities. From Tarpon Springs, Florida to the state of Alaska, ACE advocates told stories of children in their communities who have overcome hardships with support from social services, schools, health care, family members, friends, and caregivers. With such a diverse group of individuals from communities with distinctive histories, geographies, and racial and ethnic make-ups, one might expect that our struggles be vastly different. In some ways, they were. But this group of innovative and inspiring thought leaders helped me to understand that in any community, when one person in is sick, the entire community is unwell.
United by our common goal to build social immunity, we were able to learn from each other’s strengths and identify shared barriers to change. The launch of MARC was truly an inspiring development in using what we’ve learned about ACEs, trauma, and resilience to have an impact in communities all over the country.
As I think back on my year, the MARC Convening was certainly a highlight. And looking forward to 2016, I feel energized thinking about what impact we can all have in our communities. We hope to keep you up-to-date in Philadelphia with more materials and posts to come on Philadelphia’s participation in the MARC Initiative.