On Oct. 10, the McPherson County Community Foundation will be sponsoring a ‘Community Conversation’ to address how ‘Trauma-Informed Care’ can help impact the future of the McPherson County families. The event will be  from 7 to 9 p.m. held at the McPherson High School Auditorium.

Among the issues to be discussed will be how the trauma of toxic stress for the can lead to disparaging health outcomes for children in their adult lives.

Lara Kain will lead the community learning session, while addressing, not just the prospects of health issues brought on from childhood trauma or toxic stress, but also to discuss ‘ACE’s’ and ‘Trauma-informed Care’.

Kain is a former educator who now speaks to communities about working with schools to build trauma-informed environments within their programs.

The term ACE refers to ‘Adverse Childhood Experiences’, which is a study done around twenty years ago that choose 10 questions of incidents that a youth may have had between birth and 18 years of age.

To get a sense of what type of experiences of possible trauma or toxic stress someone may have experienced in their childhood, the 10 questions included: 

• Was the person sworn at, insulted or humiliated as a youth;

• Did a parent or caretaker often push, grab, slap or throw something at you as a youth;

• Did an adult or older person ever touch you in a sexual or uncomfortable way;

• Did you often feel like you were unloved or nothing special or important to the adults/caretakers in your life;

• Did you ever or often go hungry, have to wear dirty clothes;

• Were your parents or caretakers drunk or high and unable to care for you;

• Were your parents ever separated or divorced;

• Did you ever live with someone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic or used street drugs;

• Was a household member depressed or mentally ill or did a household member ever attempt suicide;

• Did a household member ever go to prison?

The survey found that those who presented positive or yes answers to four or more of the questions gave increased indications of poor health issues later on in life, including diabetes and heart disease. According to the survey results, the more ACE questions answered with a yes, the greater chance of that person having health and possible mental issues later in life.

Once a person has shared their ‘Adverse Childhood Experiences’, the next step is to get involved with a program of ‘Trauma-informed care’ to give the person an opportunity to not follow the cycle of results from those adverse childhood.

Trauma-informed care is the process to address as an adult the person and their past in order to prevent illnesses or physical, mental or emotional behaviors that may develop from those experiences.

Another area of discussion will be how we as a community or society can prevent

ACE’s from happening to a child or youth. How can we help build resiliency and

how to identify the most relevant markers such as relationships?

According to Celeste Carlson, Director of Community Services for the McPherson

County Community Foundation, noted that, “The community can and needs to

help build resilience into the equation. We have coupled with the local school

district, so they can help cover these kids during the school day, while the

Community Coalition focuses on the time outside of school time.

Carlson explained that it involves identification of four keys – mental health, early

childhood incentive, transportation, and activities and communication.

When asked about current things happening in the community to battle the

problem, Carlson mentioned that from Monday through Thursday, students in

sixth through eighth-grade can attend an after-school program at the Journey

Church facility on East Euclid in McPherson where Pastor Jim Ostlund works with

kids using music/band, art and culinary arts.

“It is interesting that doctors in California are using the ACE questions when they

get a new patient,” added Carlson. “They then can evaluate and educate their

patients and refer them to other resources in order to work with the patient’s

possible long-term effects and help mitigate any future issues.”

When asked about the hope of any outcome from the ‘Community Conversation’,

Carlson concluded that she is hoping it will bring a greater awareness of the ACE

information and impact these problems have on the community as a whole.

“This is not an individual problem, but an us situation,” voiced Carlson. “It is

needed for the community to all come together and address these issues so that

our youth and families will feel safer and more welcomed to the McPherson

community as a whole.”

If you know of, have had issues with or are concerned with those issues of how

stress moments in the youth can and will affect us all as a community, then it is

encouraged that you help bring a strong turnout on Wednesday, October 10 from

7-9 p.m. while we have a ‘Community Conversation’