The impact of showing Resilience

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As we've seen from the What are ACEs? article, trauma-informed practices are rising in the U.S., Canada, and countries in Europe, Asia, and Central and South America in schools, prisons, mental clinics and hospitals, etc. The results of the new approach are very encouraging. 

So we need to ask questions about how could we help our communities and institutions to be 'trauma-informed'? This is where a film like Resilience is vital.

James Redford, the director of Resilience, says about the impact1, "The most interesting thing to me, as time went on, was the word of mouth [awareness of the film] in communities and grassroots organizations that were looking at this issue in their own communities. They saw it as a chance to use the film as a primer about aces and toxic stress. All across the USA, it just sort of bubbled up. We've have literally had hundreds of screenings, across 50 states and some of them multiple times...  Additionally it's gone international."

There have now been over 60,000 screenings to date.

Here is the story of the community of Walla Walla in Washington State, USA who have gone through this process over the last 15 years.

They pursued the question of "What information, if it were flowing through the people of their community, would start them on a journey together toward really strong, healthy living?".

They discovered the neuroscience and the ACE Study and for 10 years, they navigated an explosion of education, of dialogue, of community-building, etc.

They built a community that's conversant in ACEs, and brain development, and resilience. They formed a Children's Resilience Initiative to teach community leaders about ACEs. This was to shift the way they looked at children - from "what's wrong with this child" to "what has this child gone through?"

With this knowledge, community agencies in Walla Walla began to create new solutions to address problems like; crime, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, chronic disease, integrating the principles and these ideas into the good work that they were already doing.

Doctors began talking to parents and guardians about ACEs and their life-long impacts. Expectant parents were given material that they could take home. Teaching was integrated into birthing classes. Nursery teachers were trained in the principles.

Parents talked about “ACEs” and became determined not to pass on their high ACEs to their children.

Police officers began emphasising community relations. Staff at the local juvenile justice centre were trained including detention staff. They moved from punishment mode where they take points away from kids when they do something wrong to an empathic response, giving them points when they do things right.

Educators began to seek the cause of problem behaviour. Instead of punitive discipline when children misbehave they find out the cause and try to create an environment where they start feeling valued, cared for, and then where they start feeling successful.

The outcomes are not only about raising awareness, but to a reduction in ACEs in their childhood population and therefore long-term social change..

Since beginning to implement trauma-informed practices in 1999, the community in Walla Walla have seen:

  • 33% reduction in domestic violence
  • 59% decrease in youth suicide attempts
  • 62% decrease in secondary school drop-outs
Here is a video the community has made:



Here are some more stories of the impact of introducing trauma-informed practices:

"Trauma training at a school in Manchester saw exclusions plummet by 88 percent. A pilot programme - that trains staff and parents has had a huge impact at the school. No other scheme had such a positive impact on the area over the past two decades. In addition, Manchester’s Youth Zone youth club implemented a scheme focusing on children with several ACEs at risk of criminal exploitation, which had seen a huge increase in confidence level, health, aspirations and emotional management skills compared to the previous cohort. In the housing sector, work done under the scheme had prevented evictions, and saved £50,000 in the process." Manchester Evening News Oct 20192

"170 women completed a Healing Trauma course in eight prisons in 2018. Results were as follows. Before the intervention, 43.3% of participants were experiencing severe depression. This reduced to 23.3%. 60% of participants reported symptoms consistent with Generalised Anxiety Disorder. Post-intervention this reduced to 33.3%. The results revealed statistically significant reductions in symptoms of psychological distress post-intervention. The women reported statistically significant reductions in trauma-related problems following completion of the programme."  One Small Thing June 20193

"ACE Study questions relating to traumatic life experiences in childhood were added to the comprehensive medical history questionnaire that patients filled out at home. An analysis of 135,000 consecutive adults going through Health Appraisal in a 2.5-year period revealed that the addition of these trauma-oriented questions, with follow-up in the exam room produced a 35% reduction in outpatient visits and an 11% reduction in Emergency Department visits over the following year compared with that group’s prior year utilization. We realized that asking, initially via an inert mechanism with later follow up in the exam room, coupled with listening and implicitly accepting the person who had just shared his or her dark secrets, is a powerful form of doing." Vincent J Felitti January 20194

"A health clinic in Pueblo, CO, USA saw a 30 percent drop in visits to the emergency room the first year they integrated healing-centered practices based on ACEs science. A juvenile detention facility in San Diego, CA, built from the ground up to be trauma-informed had no violent incidents during its first year of operation. Pediatricians are able to identify developmental issues years earlier, and thus markedly prevent years of problems. Safe Babies Courts see 99 percent of kids suffer no further abuse. A family physician in Tennessee integrated ACEs science into his practice of treating people addicted to opioids, with the result that 99 percent of his 1200 patients are able to hold down a job. A batterer intervention program in Bakersfield, CA, saw recidivism rates fall from 60 percent to six percent. A remarkable program in Plymouth County, MA, that, within 24 to 48 hours after a person recovers from an opioid overdose, sends a police officer to that person’s home and offers to take them to a rehab facility right then and there. And then says, “How about I treat you to dinner on the way?” Between 2017-2018, the county saw a 26 percent drop in opioid deaths, while counties around it had an 84 percent increase. A decline in staff turnover at the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation from 20 percent to 10 percent. A 98 percent drop in youth suicide and youth suicide attempts in Cowlitz County, WA." ACEs Connection blog November 20195
Could you be the catalyst in your community to do something similar?

Find out about how to screen the film - 'Holding a Resilience screening'.