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Belew: Oklahoma First Lady stops in Duncan, focuses on preventing adverse childhood experiences through tour and film screening

 

“The child may not remember but the body remembers.”

That was the key saying behind the “Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope” film screening Thursday, Jan. 16 when First Lady Sarah Stitt brought the Hope Rising Tour to Duncan in an effort to educate and help prevent Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) plaguing youth in the state.

“Resilience” focuses on the concept of ACEs, which is now understood to be a leading cause of “everything from heart disease and cancer to substance abuse and depression.”

 ACEs can include growing up with an abusive or dismissive parent, sexual abuse, having family members go to prison or suffering from mental illness, or being raised around a chronic alcoholic or drug abuser, to name a few.

Almost two-thirds of surveyed adults in the United States reported at least one ACE and more than one in five reported three or more ACEs. The U.S. reports an average of 20.5% affected by ACEs with California as the healthiest state at 14.8% and Oklahoma ranking as the least healthy state at 28.5%.

The one hour documentary discussed the movement to treat and prevent toxic stress. Almost every negative health condition can be traced back to ACEs and how they “alter brain development and have lifelong effects on health and behavior.”

First Assistant District Attorney Cortnie Siess, who serves Stephens, Jefferson, Grady and Caddo Counties, said she sees children suffering from these experiences on a daily basis. It connected with her during the film screening.

“As a person who works in a profession where on a daily basis I have contact and I talk to and I get rather close to children that are going through their childhood trauma … that is something that I am trying to seek justice for them,” Siess said. “But I also have a lot of contact with adults who have suffered from childhood trauma and I just want to say that this extremely powerful film made me realize how hopeful (I am) seeing all of you here today how hopeful it makes me that our community is involved in this particular event.”

Siess said the new health crisis is something Oklahomans as well as Duncanites need to focus on to help inflict change.

To read the rest of the article, please click here.

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