January 28, 2019 | Comments Off on Alexander Youth Network is Building Resilience One Child At A Time.
Last night, Alexander Youth Network staff attended #WarehouseTalks, a weekly seminar discussing hot topics affecting the Charlotte communities. Hosted by Warehouse 242, Freedom Communities, and the Charlotte Resilience Project, the evening offered attendees a free screening of the documentary “Resilience” as well as a chance to engage in discussion with a panel of mental health practitioners. The film is centered on the topic of trauma and Adverse Childhood Experience’s also known as ACEs.
An ACE Score is a tally of traumatic experiences witnessed before the age of 18. On a 1 to 10 scale, individuals with an average score of 4 or more have a higher chance of developing depression, obesity, heart disease and other co-morbidities.
And, children with a score of 4 or more have a life expectancy of 10 years younger than the national average.
As you watch the film what is shocking is not the fact that trauma exists in the lives of children, but more importantly, how common it is. The film makes you think about your own childhood and you start to tally the events you experienced.
“Part of preserving our human dignity is sitting with our emotions and sorting through them.” – J.B (Jarris Bell, MSW, LCSW), Panelist and owner of Christ Centered Community Counseling.
The film makes you uncomfortable and vulnerable, a vulnerability that is only heightened when you think of little ones who experience four or more ACEs. By the end you start to reflect on your own childhood again, thinking about how you recovered from those experiences and what made your experience different from others, who carry that trauma with them every day and who do not have the opportunity to heal.
The difference was in your support systems – your family, your peers and your community. There were little actions guiding you to heal, to become resilient, and to believe in yourself.
“Getting to know who they (kids) are and sharing who we are is important to building a relationship… meaningful relationships that are seemingly small, but matter.” – Dr. Meleah Ellison, Panelist and School Counselor with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
Though ACEs may be common and many around us heal (and may still be healing) through supportive families and communities – this is not the case for many of our kids at Alexander. Kids referred to Alexander have severe mental and behavioral health diagnoses. Many have not had much support in dealing with their traumas. Due to their experiences, they may act out in class, exhibit aggressive behaviors, or remove themselves from social interactions. Yet through structured activities, play, and ultimately positive interactions we are able to help them rebuild, trust and become more resilient.
To build a #ResilientCLT, we have to be dedicated to healing those currently affected by trauma.
By committing to healing children in our communities, we are supporting the development of a future generation of parents, community members, and leaders, who will be able to show compassion and care towards others and hopefully, prevent Adverse Childhood Experiences.
Building a resilient Charlotte is a two-fold mission, not only focusing on the child and their healing process but ensuring that the household and community they are returning to is supportive and loving. While the main focus at Alexander is children, we recognize that partnering with families is vital for a child to heal and feel safe post-recovery. Parents, guardians, families, and even communities are a part of the recovery process, and must find ways to participate in therapeutic treatment and, in turn, heal some of their own trauma.
At Alexander we are dedicated to healing. We are dedicated to providing our children with the positive relationships that will help them heal. Though ACEs are common, it does not mean that the effects from them should be.
At Alexander our first step in healing is letting children know that they matter, that they are capable, and that they are loved.
Written by Emily Gordon.