‘Invisible Scars’ trailer out; documentary is story of healing journey from child sex abuse

Johnna Janis’s documentary about her experiences with child sex abuse and other childhood adversity will be out next year, when she’ll be taking it to film festivals before distributing it.

Although the beginning focus of her story is child sex abuse, it unwinds with many other issues that emerged from her childhood adversity. With Dr. Vincent Felitti, co-founder of the CDC-Kaiser Adverse Childhood Experiences Study,  watching, she does her ACE score (a 9, out of 10), and then interviews him. 
As Janis notes: “This will be a great tool for people to see firsthand what happens to someone who has experienced trauma, and what steps can be taken to move towards healing. Great insight, excellent experts, and above all….room for prevention and education.”
Janis co-produced Invisible Scars with Sergio Myers, who directed the documentary. He is an award-winning director/producer who has been a good friend of Janis’ for almost 10 years. He is also a survivor of multiple ACEs, says Janis, and healed tremendously during the making of the documentary.
Janis said she brought him on board because of his background in film and television, and also so that he could use his own personal experiences to help shape the narrative of the documentary. They both share the desire to help others heal and grow.
“He was actually part of my educational journey,” says Janis. “According to my director, this film (in making it with me) has given him a voice to be able to talk about his past without having to publicly announce it, per se.”

Foster youth intern lands White House internship; working to make foster care trauma-informed

Amnoni Myers takes the stage at the 2014 Angels in Adoption celebration in Washington D.C. [CCAI photo]

Amnoni Myers takes the stage at the 2014 Angels in Adoption celebration in Washington D.C. [CCAI photo]

_______________________

By Daniel Heimpel

This fall, I traveled to Washington D.C. to attend the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute’s (CCAI) Angels in Adoption celebration.

The event, which draws stars from entertainment and D.C.’s political elite, always fills the cavernous Ronald Reagan Building on Pennsylvania Avenue, providing a suitable stage for some real heroes.

One of these was Amnoni Myers, a 26-year-old member of CCAI’s 2014 Foster Youth Internship Program (FYI). I remember her taking the stage, somewhere in between U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), to tell the crowd about the FYI program.

For Amnoni, CCAI’s marquee program meant interning for U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and contributing to the increasingly influential policy report that the foster youth interns produce every summer. In that report, Amnoni drew from a robust body of research sparked by the 1998 Adverse Childhood Experiences Study to deliver a compelling case for increased efforts to make the foster care system “trauma-informed.”

On stage at the Reagan Building, Amnoni described her experience and told the crowd that she had applied for an internship at the White House. Whoops and applause rose from the hundred or more tables tightly spaced across the floor.

Last week, Amnoni stopped by my office in San Francisco, with some good news in hand. In January, she will move back to D.C. to start that White House internship with the Domestic Policy Council.

Instead of brimming with pride, Amnoni was sanguine about the opportunity. Having come up in foster care, many of her peers and extended family never had the chance at an internship at the White

Continue reading

California’s first ACEs summit: Children Can Thrive

Parker Blackman. [Photo by Jason Steinberg/Steinberg Imagery]

Parker Blackman. [Photo by Jason Steinberg/Steinberg Imagery]

__________________________

A three-day summit on Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs, strengthens California’s efforts to orient policy and practice around preventing and responding to child trauma.

By Parker Blackman

“We know that it makes sense to keep kids in school for $9,000 a year versus individuals in prison for $62,000 a year.”

This statement is the kind of thing you’d expect to hear from a leader in education or child welfare, right? What if I told you instead that the person who said this is a leader in the criminal justice system? In

Continue reading

Most Californians have experienced childhood trauma; early adversity a direct link to adult onset of chronic disease, depression, violence

ACAreport

Nearly two-thirds of California adults have experienced at least one type of major childhood trauma, such as physical, verbal or sexual abuse, or living with a family member who abuses alcohol or is depressed, according to a report released today.

The report – “Hidden Crisis: Findings on Adverse Childhood Experiences in California” (HiddenCrisis_Report_1014) – also reveals the effects of those early adversities: a startling and large increased risk of the adult onset of chronic disease, such as heart disease and cancer, mental illness and violence or being a victim of violence.

Ten types of childhood trauma were measured. They include physical, sexual and verbal abuse, and physical and emotional neglect. Five family dysfunctions were also measured: a family member diagnosed with mental illness, addicted to alcohol or other drug, or who has been incarcerated; witnessing a mother being abused, an losing a parent to separation, divorce or other reason.

Continue reading

Maine Resilience Building Network changes how people think about childhood trauma

Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 4.23.16 PM

Sue Mackey Andrews will talk to anyone about adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs: Pediatricians. Early childcare workers. Parent advocacy groups. And those on the front lines who work with kids, like the longtime school bus driver from rural Maine, a gruff and taciturn man who insisted, during a half-day school district inservice, that trauma and resilience had nothing to do with his work.

The driver also told Andrews that he would not start the bus each day until he had made eye contact with every single child and greeted him or her by name. And that, Andrews responded, was exactly the relevance of his work to build resilience.

The tagline of the Maine Resilience Building Network (MRBN), which Andrews co-facilitates, is “Join the Conversation.” The

Sue Mackey Andrews, co-facilitator, Maine Resilience Building Network

Sue Mackey Andrews, co-facilitator, Maine Resilience Building Network

group, formed in the spring of 2012, brings together practitioners in medical care, education and behavioral health, along with those working in business, law enforcement, the military, juvenile justice and faith communities.

Since its early meetings, comprising a half-dozen people, all of them doing work based on research into childhood adversity, MRBN has grown to include 77 members, with reach into all of Maine’s 16 counties.

From the beginning, said Andrews and MRBN co-facilitator Leslie Forstadt, associate professor with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, the group agreed that the message should focus on wellness and healing rather than illness and trauma.

The word “resilience” had to be part of the name because, said Andrews, “we talk about how it’s never too late to realize your ACEs and, through support and personal discovery, overcome them.” The term “building” captured the sense of a growing effort, and “network” aptly described how individual sites would function autonomously while sharing their innovations, challenges and questions.

The term “ACEs” has its origins in the CDC-Kaiser Adverse Childhood Experiences Study. The study revealed a direct link between 10 types of childhood adversity and the adult onset of chronic disease (cancer, heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, etc.), mental illness, violence and being a victim of violence. It showed that childhood trauma was very common — two-thirds of adults have

Continue reading

Arizona ACE Consortium spreads awareness, influences prevention of childhood trauma

Aarizona
Not long after Marcia Stanton stumbled across the original article from the CDC’s Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, she heard a conference presentation by Dr. Vincent Felitti, one of the study’s co-authors. She invited Felitti to do grand rounds with 100 pediatricians at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, where she works.

“I thought they’d be all over this,” says Stanton, a social worker in the hospital’s Injury Prevention Center, where she coordinates child abuse prevention programs and promotes primary prevention. After all, the study revealed a direct link between 10 types of childhood adversity and the adult onset of chronic disease (cancer, heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, etc.), mental illness, violence and being a victim of violence. It showed that childhood trauma

Continue reading

Children’s Resilience Initiative in Walla Walla, WA, draws spotlight to trauma-sensitive school

RRocksbannerIn Walla Walla, Washington, the journey to implement ACEs research has been akin to a wild ride on a transformer roller coaster that arbitrarily changes its careening turns, mountainous ascents, and hair-raising plunges. And sometimes the ride just screeches to a frustrating halt.

The odyssey began in October 2007, when Teri Barila, Walla Walla County Community Network coordinator, heard Dr. Robert Anda, co-investigator

Continue reading