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Petaluma Group Inspired to Prevent, Heal, Treat ACES


A local Petaluma group kicked off 2016 by inviting Karen Clemmer, PHN, and Brian Farragher, Executive Director of Hannah Boys Center to speak about preventing, healing, and treating Adverse Childhood Experiences.

Erin Hawkins, Community Outreach Program Manager of the Petaluma Health Care District, encouraged members of the Community Health Initiative for Petaluma Area (affectionately known as "CHIPA" to many members) to ponder the impact of ACES on the health of Petaluma families.  Members include representatives from Mentor Me Petaluma, Petaluma School District, St Joseph’s Hospital administration, First 5, Kaiser, and other community groups.

Brian Farragher spoke on the "Impact of Childhood Adversity on Public Health and Wellness" highlighting the biology of stress in childhood and how it manifests in negative consequences over the course of a life. Audience members were emotionally moved by the many slides showing the relationship between ACES and rates of chronic depression, struggles with substance use, and even suicide.  

Karen Clemmer brought the Public Health perspective into further focus by showing the science supporting the urgency behind addressing toxic stress in childhood: 

“Never before in the history of medicine have we had better insight into the factors that determine the health of an individual from infancy to adulthood, which is part of the life course perspective—a way of looking at life not as disconnected stages but as integrated across time.”

This January 12, 2015 meeting engaged dozens of community members - some of whom are already incorporating the ACE and Resiliency models into their South County efforts. For example, Mentor Me, Petaluma City School District, and in Mother's Care are all Petaluma programs integrating trauma-informed approaches or ACES screenings.  

 Beth Dadko, Health Action, shares how the presentation impressed her: "I was struck by the other adversities that aren’t measured by the original ACEs study and thinking through how homelessness, racism, poverty, immigration status, etc. also impact children’s brain development and health.  I also appreciated the conclusion that although discipline is important…love, attachment and relationship is the secret sauce.  This is something we can all carry forward in our everyday lives."


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