Michelle Rupp: Welcome to this week’s edition of AFMC TV. We’re so glad you’ve joined us. We are talking today on a couple of different subjects, but the first one being adverse childhood experiences also known as ACEs. Do you know what an ACE is? Or maybe what your ACE score might be? Or how about an ACE summit? We’re going to answer all those questions with our first guest, Amelia Elam here. Amelia let’s talk about ACEs. Some are familiar with that acronym. Some are not, some know it just simply as adverse childhood experiences. What are we talking about?

Amelia Elam: Hi Michelle and thank you for having me. The adverse childhood experience is just that. It’s experiences that children go through while they’re growing up, these ACEs as we call them. The original test was there were 10 ACEs that included neglect, could be physical, could be emotional abuse, same thing, physical or emotional, but it can also include household challenges such as divorce, death. Perhaps a parent or someone you love has been incarcerated and it’s possible there is substance use in the home. So, all those do affect the child and growing up.

MR: We mentioned an ACE score. What does that mean? Is that a combination of those hardships in your life to come up with a score?

AE: It is. You can look at the score originally, like I said there were 10 but we know there’s so many more ACEs than just the original 10, but someone can look at that list of death, divorce, I was abused, my parent was in jail. And if you give them a list of 10 and they have four of the 10, it really doesn’t define who they are, it just lets them know that they are experiencing issues and that we want to bring awareness to them and get them some help.

MR: So, the score, while we can talk about a score, we really need to be talking more about how we can become resilient to what we grew up knowing. So, the summit um kind of helps to reinforce building that resilience, right?

AE: Yes. And this year’s summit, it’s our fifth-year annual summit and it’s about building resilience. Our objective is to learn how to use tools, teach people how to know how to be resilient, how to teach others, because that’s what’s going to get us through all these cases that we have survived. It’s also going to help those that are in the summit and listening to all these subject matter experts talk to us, people from the judicial system, people from educators. We even have a session for foster parents that we’re going to have. So, everyone can come but being resilient will help move them through and become more aware, awareness is the key. If we’re not aware of it, then we’re not going to be able to look at these children and instead of saying what’s wrong with them, which if you’ve got someone out there being a bully or something of that nature, our first tendency is to say what is wrong with that child. We need to look at that more as to what happened to that child when they were, when they were growing up. And if we’re more aware of that, then we’re going to be more apt to, to help them and to better our communities.

MR: It’s reframing and understanding that there’s something in the back story that is causing a reaction and how it’s manifesting.

AE: Absolutely. And one of my favorite sayings is everyone has a story and we’re not privy to everyone’s story. We can’t look at them and you know, judge them or anything because we do not know what went on behind closed doors as they were growing up.

MR: Well, you mentioned this is the fifth year of the summit. It looks a little different because in years prior we would all come together, but that’s not the case, right?

AE: Not the case, certainly because of the pandemic, we had come together the first three years last year was our first virtual that we did in two days. And when discussing this year’s summit, we thought that and we know that sitting through webinars for two days, that’s a lot on a person. So, we tossed some things around and thought, okay, we’re going to do this as a series. Each Wednesday in September, there’s going to be a different summit episode series that people are going to be talking about to the judicial people. We’re going to have mental health providers that can talk with someone again, the foster parents, teachers and educators. We’ve got a great list of speakers that are experts at this, and we have worked with them in the past and we know that what they’re going to offer is going to be some great information and really help move us in a direction of that awareness, and you know, better able to understand and make Arkansas as well as our country so much better when we know this.

MR: That’s great. Well Amelia, thank you very much for joining us this morning. And if you would like more information about the ACEs Summit or how you can register, just click the link below.

To learn more about ACEs and the ACEs summit, visit https://afmc.org/aces/