Adverse Childhood Experience

At our March Greater Vancouver Staff Meeting, we took part in a workshop on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) led by Registered Psychologist, Jennifer Mervyn. Recent studies have been shown that childhood trauma can severely affect our health as we age. 64% of the population has been found to have at least one childhood trauma, while 12% have four or more. ACEs are considered to be the single most powerful determinant of our health, far outweighing any biological history.

These statistics can be concerning considering the demographic of youth that we work with. Many of the youth we have contact with find themselves living in the current reality of these Adverse Childhood Experiences. So how do we interject into their reality in hope of preventing long-term consequences? How do we support these youth in stopping the cycles from being passed along to future generations?

One of the most encouraging statistics that Jennifer shared during her presentation was that a caring individual in someone’s life can reverse an ACEs score. By being present, listening and walking alongside, we actually have the ability to positively influence the future of these youth by teaching them resiliency (the ability to return to being healthy and hopeful after bad things happen).

Interestingly, many staff found themselves realizing the impact that their own ACE score had on their life. Other staff saw how the resiliency of a parent with a high ACE score led for them to have a low to zero ACE score in their own life. Jennifer encouraged that if you were seeing the effects of a high ACE score in your own life, seeking help was not only important but also crucial in being able to continue to work alongside youth and young adults in similar situations.

If you are interested in learning more on this topic, a simple Google search can find a lot of information. If you are finding yourself being triggered by your own Adverse Childhood Experiences, do not ignore it. You are encouraged to seek help - speak with a friend, counselor or spouse who can help you determine the next step.

Our past experiences may influence our future, but they do not need to define who we are.

- Megan Adam


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