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Hundreds gathered in City Heights last month for the San Diego premier of Resilience -The Biology of Stress and Science of Hope.


The crowd arrived to the aroma of freshly popped popcorn that wafted through the Cherokee Point Elementary School auditorium. With bags of popcorn and plates filled with fresh-cut fruits and vegetables from trays on tables lining the wall, the service providers, policy makers, community advocates, graduate students, teachers and parents settled in for a movie and a panel discussion that brought many to tears.

Dr. Dawn Griffin, a professor in Alliant International University departments of Undergraduate Psychology and Criminal Justice Systems, welcomed everyone. Griffin explained how after everyone watched the film and heard from the panelists, they would break into small groups to set an agenda for the community to build resilience.

The screening of Resilience was hosted by Alliant International University; County of San Diego’s HHSA; Paving Great Futures, which provided the healthy array of food choices; and San Diego Unified School District.

Dale Fleming Resilience 062116Dale Fleming

Resilience - the Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope explores the science and solutions of stress caused by adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and resilience. The documentary chronicles the promising beginnings of a national movement to prevent childhood trauma, treat toxic stress, and greatly improve the health of future generations. Director James Redford explained how Resilience came to be and how the screenings will roll out across the U.S.

Jamie Redford Resilience 062116James Redford

Redford then joined his fellow panelists  ACEs Connection Network Founder and Publisher Jane Stevens, County of San Diego Health, Human Services Agency (HHSA) Director of Strategy Dale Fleming, Cherokee Point Elementary School Principal Godwin Higa, Trauma Informed Community Schools (TICS) parent leader Jose Granado, Youth Empowerment Community Wrap Around Founder Arturo Soriano, and Youth Voice  leader Jessica Rivera of Hoover High School.

Panelists Resilience 062116(left to right) James Redford, Dale Fleming, Jane Stevens, Arturo Soriano, Jessica Rivera

Jose Granado Resilience 062116
(left to right) Godwin Higa, Jose Granado, James Redford, Dale Fleming

Granado encouraged everyone to love their children and care about their community. Speaking of his family’s transformation through learning about the impact of complex trauma and ACEs, Granado explained how his family’s resilience has increased and how their connection with each other and their peers in the school and community has deepened.

Principal Godwin Higa shared, "Policy changes must happen or nothing will happen".

Jane Stevens Resilience 062116(left to right) Dale Fleming, Jane Stevens, Arturo Soriano

Stevens reflected on the power of language and how the resilience building movement’s common shared language has taken deep root with systems that are themselves highly stressed. With the daily growth of ACEs Connection’s membership globally, Stevens pointed out how communities were integrating trauma-informed and resilience-building practices across sectors.

Jessica Rivera Resilience 062116
Arturo Soriano and Jessica Rivera

Representing the voice of thousands of youth in the San Diego region, Rivera eloquently challenged the community members and systems leaders to transform schools and services through trauma-informed strategies while building resilience in students. Rivera will be a senior at Hoover High School in the Fall and is vested in being a millennial youth inspiring others through social justice campaigns.

Soriano passionately expressed his team’s intentions of "transformation of a lifestyle" in the neighborhoods and communities of City Heights. Sharing that his gang life started as a middle school student a couple of blocks away from Cherokee Point Elementary, he noted that the Youth Empowerment team’s grass-roots community engagement model is bringing hope and healing to local families.

Following the panel, Griffin invited all attendees to join one of the break-out sessions with the guiding questions of: “What do you need as people to make a big change in the area of: 1) Policy, 2) Practice, 3) Language, 4) Environment and 5) the Inclusion of Client Partners.

2 break out groups Resilience 062116

Griffin expressed her gratitude for the attendees taking the time to attend and participate. Letting them know the notes from each Break Out group would be disseminated to the audience, Griffin encouraged everyone to remain engaged on the San Diego: A Community of Resilience and Hope website of the on-going efforts with Resilience future screenings and events throughout the San Diego region.  Please visit:

Orange County's ACEs Steering Committee members represented their region as we continue to build relationships and collaborations in southern California.

Orange County at Resilience in SD 062116
Betsy Starkweather, Mary Brogdon and Marguerite Bonnett

To remain engaged county-wide, please join our San Diego County group on ACEs Connection. We help support the county’s resilience-building movement and highlight early adopters and champions on the front line of systems change.

ACN w Audrey and Jessica Resilience 062116

(left to right) ACEs Connection Network (ACN) and MARC National Community Facilitator Jennifer Hossler; ACN Southern CA Regional Community Facilitator Dana Brown; Youth Voice leader Jessica Rivera;  ACN Founder/Publisher Jane Stevens; Dr. Audrey Hokoda, San Diego State University Child, Family Development Department.


Images (9)
  • Dale Fleming Resilience 062116
  • Jamie Redford Resilience 062116
  • Panelists Resilience 062116
  • Jose Granado Resilience 062116
  • Jane Stevens Resilience 062116
  • Jessica Rivera Resilience 062116
  • 2 break out groups Resilience 062116
  • ACN w Audrey and Jessica Resilience 062116
  • Orange County at Resilience in SD 062116
Files (1)
Break-Out Session notes per group reflect the audience engagement following the screening and panel.

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