"Resilience" takes a biological approach to childhood trauma

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- "Sometimes up to a third of the students in a classroom have had a significant number of adverse experiences," said TPS Social Work Coordinator Julie Ward

Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACES, are traumatic events that some children find themselves in every day.

Things often out of their control.

"It could be they’re a product of a home that’s experienced divorce. It could be they're living in a home where there’s abuse. Verbal, physical, sexual, there’s a whole list," said Tammy Austin, Topeka Public Schools Asst. Superintendent.

Every day hundreds of students come to school tired, distracted, anxious, even hungry, because of things that happen outside of the classroom. "Resilience" is meant to shine a light on those toxic stresses.

"Resilience is more about the theory behind it and the brain research and how trauma can impact the brain. As educators we need to better understand that so we can better serve our children," said Austin.

In addition to teaching community leaders the biological impact of ACEs, the film explains how to identify and prevent the actions that often follow.

Since implementing trauma-informed practices, communities nationwide have seen reductions in everything from high school dropouts to teen pregnancies, even youth suicide.

"If they’re experiencing trauma, it’s really hard for them to learn. That's why this movie is so important," said Austin.

Teachers, Rescue Mission staff, and Juvenile Detention Center personnel gathered to screen the film, because as Resilience explains, adverse experiences can affect any child.

"It’s a big nationwide effort around this whole idea of trauma-informed care and how to support people," said Austin.