A growing number of communities across the U.S. are incorporating strategies from Prevention Institute’s (PI) groundbreaking report on the relationship between community trauma and violence, and how to heal and prevent trauma.
The Adverse Community Experiences and Resilience (ACE|R) report outlines specific strategies for building resilience, elicited from those living or working in areas highly affected by community trauma. PI is now working with a number of communities to incorporate the ACE|R framework into their efforts to improve community health and safety.
In San Diego, a group is using the ACE|R framework as part of PI’s Making Connections for Mental Health and Wellbeing among Men and Boys initiative, funded by the Movember Foundation. Jama Mohamed, Program Coordinator for the San Diego initiative, describes how community environments can produce and exacerbate trauma among refugees: “When you look at a community that has actually experienced trauma, and you put them in an environment like this, it’s not for us to question their behaviors,” he said. “[The refugees] got away from dying [in their home countries] to come to an environment where they have to survive again. We are creating … opportunities for parents, young men and women to find solutions that are culturally competent.”
Other cities where the ACE|R framework is in use:
- In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, we are working with the Health Department to use ACE|R as a core framework for an action plan to reduce the incidence of interpersonal and structural violence, and to promote community safety and resilience. Milwaukee is a member of our UNITY City Network.
- In Oakland, California, as part of a national SAMHSA-funded project, PI is part of the city’s efforts to reduce trauma. PI is working with project partners to develop ACE|R training materials.
- In Tacoma and San Diego, Making Connections’ sites are using the ACE|R framework to develop strategies that address the community conditions that undermine quality of life for young boys and men of color, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and suicide.
The ACE|R report, which is supported by Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit, lays out a framework for understanding the reality that in some neighborhoods, whole communities—including youth, caregivers, service providers, and first responders—are traumatized from violence and a lack of access to opportunities that other communities have. In too many places, this trauma is a barrier to achieving healthy, thriving communities. The ACE|R framework lays out strategies for what can be done to heal and build resilience to ongoing and future harm. It has resonated across multiple sectors, including healthcare, mental health, violence prevention, climate change, and early childhood development, since its release in February 2016.
PI has also been presenting on ACE|R at a number of meetings and conferences, including:
- A U.S. congressional briefing on effective strategies to prevent injury and violence, including speakers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Safe States Alliance;
- A meeting with the Department of Homeland Security and conference of the International Transformational Resilience Coalition, on the relation of community trauma and resilience to climate change preparation and response efforts;
- The California Office of Health Equity’s Racial Equity Speaker Series, designed to spark conversation about racial equity among state government staff and community members; and
- The Center for Youth Wellness’s Conference on Adverse Childhood Experiences, along with our partner organizations from San Diego and Tacoma that are involved with PI’s Making Connections initiative.
PI is grateful to Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit for their support, first to develop and now to disseminate and operationalize ACE|R, in partnership with communities.