A thug named Steve

The other day I visited a young black man from Philadelphia doing time for an armed robbery.

First, let me say that there is no way I could have imagined spending time with a thug like Steve before I was led into prison ministry — and it’s safe to assume most people would feel likewise. That’s why I’d like to share what happened. If nothing else, maybe this story will make everyone hug their families extra close tonight and thank God for our blessings.

Steve is about 5 foot 4, with thick glasses and a nervous stutter. I first met him about a year ago. He was so anxious during our first interview, he could barely string three words together and his hands shook like someone suffering end-stage Parkinson’s.

I found out his back story from some prison staff. Steve has been in prison for 20 years since he was 13 years old — and during that entire 20 years no one had EVER come to visit him. Later, I learned that his mother sold him when he was six years old for some heroin and he wound up being passed around from home to home, a victim of physical and sexual abuse.

After a few visits Steve warmed up to me and the stutter eased up some. I was struck by how fascinated he was by my life and my family; he was always asking me questions about them. He seemed particularly amazed that we ate our meals together and went to our kids’ sporting events.

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“Resilience” premieres at Sundance Film Festival to sold-out houses

(l to r) Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, who appears in Resilience; Robert Redford, father of Resilience director James Redford; Clifford Beers Guidance Clinic site coordinator Laura Lawrence, who appears in Resilience; Resilience producer and director James Redford; Resilience co-producer Dana Schwartz

(l to r) Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, who appears in Resilience; Robert Redford, father of Resilience director James Redford; Clifford Beers Guidance Clinic site coordinator Laura Lawrence, who appears in Resilience; Resilience producer and director James Redford; Resilience co-producer Dana Schwartz

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Resilience, a documentary that looks at the birth of the CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study and how it spawned a movement across the world, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on Friday. The first two screenings — both on Friday — were sold out.

Not bad for a film whose director, James Redford, wasn’t even planning on submitting it to the festival.

The buzz started before the festival even began. Wired.com listed Resilience as No. 2 in the 25 documentaries not to miss. WhatNotToDoc.com also singled it out. Nonfictionfilm.com did a story about the documentary.

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Integrating ACEs increases hope for healing at One Hope United in Illinois

Tammy Ambre (l) and Keri Bechelli of One Hope United

Tammy Ambre (l) and Keri Bechelli of One Hope United

One Hope United attempts to lead those affected by childhood trauma down a Healing Path.

That’s the name of a three-year-old program that has brought a different approach to helping people with adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). The program operates out of One Hope United’s office in Gurnee, IL, north of Chicago, and three others in the metropolitan area.

“It’s specifically trauma-based treatment, rooted in evidence-based practices,” says Jill Novacek, director of programs for the four Illinois offices of One Hope United. The organization works to ensure safe, loving environments for children by educating and empowering them and their parents—or, if need be, foster parents. The program serves children from

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Judges can do enormous good if they look at what works for juveniles

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By Judge Steven Teske

Champions for change is key to reform. No champions, no change.

No matter the number of evidence-based programs we identify, and the best approaches and models to deliver them, they are meaningless unless someone calls attention to them.

And when all else fails, the law must be changed to force leaders to lead.

Mandating change is sometimes necessary because leadership is like a flashlight — what we see depends on who is holding the flashlight. Not all leaders direct the circumscribed beam of light in the direction of what works.

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Keeping trauma-informed teachers in Oakland, CA, schools

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Dr. Joyce Dorado, director of UCSF’s HEARTS program

 

by Shane Downing at ChronicleOfSocialChange.org

Last New Year’s Day, when 13-year-old Lee Weathersby III was shot and died in Oakland, CA, nearly 200 of his middle school peers and teachers received therapy.

In the Oakland Unified School District, Sandra Simmons’ job is to help coordinate that therapy on school campuses. As a behavioral health program manager for the district, Simmons oversees crisis response across the district. She has organized behavioral health training and counseling for students, teachers, staff, and administrators for the past five years.

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Momentum grows for trauma-informed movement in Tennessee

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A little less than two years ago, a group of ACEs activists from Memphis came to a meeting of the Philadelphia ACEs Task Force and made a site visit to the 11th Street Family Health Services for “information and enlightenment,” according to Chris Peck, a member of the six-person delegation. Since then, these and other leaders in Tennessee are poised to take what they have started in Memphis statewide, demonstrating that ACEs research has the power to galvanize communities and even whole states to make fundamental changes to benefit children, adults, and families.

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ACEs histories for mothers recovering from substance abuse

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The aptly named Great Starts program at the Helen Ross McNabb Center in Knoxville, TN, provides a six-to-nine month residential treatment and two-year follow-up program for pregnant mothers and moms with newborns recovering from substance abuse. Earlier this year, curious about the early childhood history of its residents, the center started asking the women about their ACEs history.

The results would not have been surprising to those familiar with ACEs: Of the 16 moms who filled out the 10-question ACE survey from the CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, the average score was a whopping 6.4.

Using the ACE survey, says mental health clinician and family treatment program manager Sarah Long, could allow staff members to identify those potential risk factors these new parents experienced as children that might in turn affect the parenting of their own children.

The ACE Study measured 10 types of childhood adversity, those that occurred before the age of 18. They are physical, verbal and sexual abuse; physical and emotional neglect; a family member with mental illness, or has been incarcerated or is abusing alcohol or other drugs; witnessing a mother being abused; losing a parent to divorce, separation or death.

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