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Brain Science Awareness

ACEs comes to the Capital Region

On April 11th and 12th, Melissa T. Merrick, Ph.D from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, GA and Ms. Marjorie Sims, managing director of the Ascend Program at the Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C. shared their observations about ACEs (adverse childhood experiences). On April 11th, during an interesting and inspiring pre-Symposium information session at the New York State Capitol for legislators and members of their staff as well as others from state agencies responsible to the human service sector. Here they were joined by David Wallace, LaSalle’s clinical director to present information and answer questions about the effects of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) on the overall population and their affects on school completion unemployment.

On April 12th, they were joined by LaSalle’s research specialist, Camela Steinke Ph.D and Associate Clinical Director Dina McManus, LCSW-R to expand on this information. An app allowed participants to respond – in real time – to information delivered on vicarious staff trauma by Steinke and McManus.
Read the entire post, view photos, print certificate of completion >>

Informing audiences far and wide

At LaSalle School, the simplicity of De La Salle’s mission and the difficulties experienced by children and families are continually woven together to develop the best possible intervention and treatment plans for successful futures and outcomes. Now underway are several activities designed to disseminate information about how trauma treatment and research is carried out at LaSalle in thoughtful and meaningful ways. Each presentation or activity builds on the receding one obtaining insightful evaluations to strengthen delivery.
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ACEs Symposium topic: ‘Who’s helping the helpers?’

On the Agenda: Vicarious staff trauma, CDC perspectives, 2-generational approaches

“To promote an environment where traumatized youth can thrive, staff caregivers must first ‘put the oxygen mask on themselves’ before they can ‘save the youth,'” said Dina McManus, LaSalle’s Associate Clinical Director. On April 12th, McManus and Camela Steinke, Ph.D, LaSalle’s Program Assessment and Effectiveness Research Specialist, will present at The Third Annual Capital Region Symposium on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). They will discuss trauma informed care and how the vicarious nature of a youth’s first-hand trauma affects staff charged with caring for them in childcare settings. Symposium registration opens in February.
Learn more about the 2016 ACEs Symposium >>
Read more about the vicarious staff trauma presentation >>

Change in Mind Digest – January 2016

Framing – What it is and what does it do

The first of two Change in Mind convenings directed by the FrameWorks Institute in Washington, D.C. was held in January (the second will be held in April). FrameWorks designs, conducts and publishes communications research to prepare nonprofits to expand their constituency base, to build public will, and to further public understanding of specific social issues. Change in Mind planners from the Alliance of Strong Communities and Families secured FrameWorks to recommend strategies for framing brain development messages intended to create a change in policy, procedure, or practice.
Read the entire January 2015 digest >>

Change in Mind Digest – November 2015

The Plan

Attached to this issue of the Change in Mind Digest is a depiction of a theory of change for the Brain Science Awareness Project. It outlines the context from which our plan was derived, the aims of the project, the strategies we plan to use, and the short and long term outcomes we hope to achieve. In this issue, we are focusing on the strategies we plan to use to improve brain science awareness, improve practice, and impact policy.
Read the entire November 2015 digest >>

Part 3: TWCable’s Breaking the Cycle: Teaching the Parents

There are about 150 students at the LaSalle School in Albany, a residential treatment center for troubled boys. Almost all of them have experienced serious childhood trauma, and then acted out because of it. In parts one and two of Breaking the Cycle, Katie Eastman explained how LaSalle changed the question for these boys from “What did you do?” to “What happened to you?” Now (in Part 3 of the Breaking the Cycle series), they’re encouraging their parents to do the same. 20151123_112834

ALBANY, N.Y. — Fifteen year-olds, summed up in sentences hang from a LaSalle classroom ceiling.

“I love basketball,” one person wrote. “I love junk food,” said another mobile. These are the easy things to say.

“It’s something eating inside him but he doesn’t want to open up to nobody,” said Nyoka Gonzales.

But asking about the real stuff to figure out how to help your 15-year-old son is tough. “It seems like I can’t get through to him the way that I want to get through to him,” said Gonzales.
See the video >>

Part 2: TWCable’s Breaking the Cycle: Moving on From the Past at the LaSalle School

Part two of Breaking the Cycle introduces you to two young men who are well into moving on from their past. One is a graduate of the LaSalle School, the other still has a couple years left. Katie Eastman explains how the LaSalle School helped these young men find another side of themselves. 

ALBANY, N.Y. — When you walk into Mike Falzano’s music classroom at the LaSalle School, there’s a chance you’ll hear a bluesy version of a Led Zeppelin song and you’d want to ask Jake Simmons, how did he get so good at guitar?

“I met Falzano and he was showing me all these really cool blues and jazz songs,” Simmons said.20151001_163247

Across the hallway in the Family and Consumer Sciences classroom, you’d want to ask Michael Bonilla-Soto for the recipe of the cake he named “Too Much Chocolate.”

“I love doing it because it makes people happy,” said Bonilla-Soto.

But the question you have could change when you learn that Jake and Michael were and are students at the LaSalle School in Albany, a residential treatment and education center for troubled boys. Now you might ask, what did they do to get here?
See the video >>

Part 1: TWCable’s Breaking the Cycle: Using ‘What Happened’ to Curb Childhood Trauma at LaSalle School

In part one of the series Breaking the Cycle, reporter Katie Eastman explains the Adverse Childhood Experiences 20151123_112704study and  why it’s important to a local school.

ALBANY, N.Y. — Inside brick walls along Western Avenue in Albany, there’s a movement — one that asks a different question. Instead of what did you do, this movement asks: What happened to you?

“Have you ever lost a parent to death or incarceration? Have you ever been hit slapped insulted? Have you ever been sexually abused?” said David Wallace, listing off questions commonly asked.

There are 10 questions in all, and the answer is yes for so many of the 12- to 18-year-old boys who live and go to class at the La Salle School in Albany. “There’s some strong evidence that suggests if we do nothing, they will experience a life course of illness and poor performance academically, emotionally, behaviorally, interpersonally,” said Wallace, the director of Clinical Services at the LaSalle School.

The 10 questions were the basis for a study called Adverse Childhood Experiences. The CDC and Kaiser Permanente interviewed more than 17,000 adults and asked, what happened to you as a child?

Their results showed a strong link between childhood trauma and chronic disease, mental illness, addiction, obesity — the list goes on. These results came out more than 15 years ago.
See the video >>

First MARC meeting: We’re all in ACE resilience together

On November 8th and 9th, representatives from all 14 localities selected for Mobilizing Action for Resilient Communities (MARC) met in Philadelphia, PA to meet and network with one another. Their goal was also to share their efforts for all those who have suffered from adverse childhood experiences including senior citizens, the disabled and those fighting chronic illness, and youth and families at risk.MARC GROUP PIC

Representing the HEARTS initiative were University at Albany’s Heather Larkin. She is associate professor in UAlbany’s School of Social Welfare, and is the HEARTS program director. Larkin along with David Wallace, LaSalle School’s director of clinical services, Senior Hope’s Nicole MacFarland, and Trinity Alliance’s Harris Oberlander represented HEARTS, short for Healthy Environments And Relationships That Support.

The two-day meeting provided the MARC communities with opportunities to meet one another, discuss the many ways that adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) affect all age groups and impact their short and long-term health consequences, and how treatment practices are being transformed by the science of ACEs.
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MARC to have statewide implications for trauma

With the emergence of a new national learning collaborative called Mobilizing Action for Resilient Communities (MARC), there will be statewide implications at community and local levels for brain science research. The University at Albany’s collaborative network – Healthy Environments And Relationships That Support, commonly known as HEARTS received a $300,000 grant award to participate in MARC. HEARTS (Healthy Environments And Relationships That Support) is one of 14 networks of nonprofits and health caring organizations chosen to be a MARC community.

“MARC funds will allow us to move from a service-sector focus to a five-county community development, mobilization and action plan, along with a statewide scale-up benefits through state agencies” commented Heather Larkin, associate professor at UAlbany’s School of Social Welfare. Larkin also heads the National Center for Excellence in Homeless Services, and will serve as the MARC project leader for HEARTS.
Read the entire story >>

HEARTS one of 14 MARC localities – Who are the others?

In an October 29th press release, the Health Federation of Philadelphia announced the 14 localities that would join the new initiative called Mobilizing Action for Resilient Communities (MARC), including the University at Albany’s HEARTS network of 15 nonprofit and health caring organizations.

Healthy Environments And Relationships That Support (HEARTS) received a $300,000 grant award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as one of the 14 networks chosen to participate in the $4.8 million MARC national initiative. In addition to the HEARTS network, the other 13 communities which range from Tarpon Springs, Florida to Alaska will receive grants of $100,000-$300,000 and join a two-year learning collaborative where they will share best practices, try new approaches and become models for other communities in implementing effective solutions for combating adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).
Learn about all 14 MARC communities >>

HEARTS receipt of MARC grant to impact LaSalle

The abilities that the University at Albany’s 15-member collaborative called HEARTS will have to expand its work based in practices directly related to groundbreaking discoveries in the areas of neurology and brain science skyrocketed with UAlbany’s announcement of a $300,000 grant award. LaSalle School, Albany is a key HEARTS member and provider of services to youth and families.

Healthy Environments And Relationships That Support – HEARTS – is a collaborative network of 15 nonprofit agencies and health providers concentrating efforts on the Capital Region’s most underserved, high-ACE scoring populations, including children from minority groups, people experiencing disabilities, and homeless people. LaSalle School, Albany is a HEARTS partner working closely together with the entire HEARTS coalition to advance brain science research and treatment practices.

This sizable grant award came as a result of HEARTS selection for the national project called Mobilizing Action for Resilient Communities (MARC). A December 2014 press release announcing $4.8 million in funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for the MARC initiative stated well-established coalition and partnerships with a demonstrated history of working together to reduce childhood adversity and promote resiliency among diverse populations of all age groups would be selected for MARC. UAlbany’s HEARTS initiative is one of 14 communities across the country selected for MARC.
Read the entire story >>

2016 ACEs Symposium date, topics announced

The Third Annual Capital District Symposium on Adverse Childhood Experience(s), Trauma, and Response will be held on Tuesday, April 12th, 2016.

This year’s symposium will feature a keynote speaker from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The topic will be the CDC’s growing public position and statistics on adverse childhood experiences and the impact on health and other factors related to school completion, household poverty, and unemployment. For example, the social determinants for long term health are not dramatically different from those for education achievement.
Read entire announcement >>

Change in Mind Digest – September 2015

The Centrality of Relationships

One of the key concepts discussed by many of the presenters at the August 2015 convening in Chicago was centered around the importance of relationships in promoting healthy brain development and mitigating the effects of trauma. In early childhood, the interaction between child and caregiver develops and reinforces neural pathways. The more these pathways are used, the stronger they get. This is why early childhood education is key, as it leads to healthy development.
Read the entire September 2015 digest >>

The time is ripe for a ‘Change in Mind’

As LaSalle joins their U.S. and Canadian peer sites to in August 2015 kick off the ‘Change in Mind’ initiative in Chicago, the Alliance for Stronger Families and Communities announced the Chronicle of Social Change’s support for the project and more about the ‘Change in Mind’ director and her vision for nonprofit service providers to take a leading role in encouraging adoption of trauma-informed practices in their communities.

“From my experience in Wisconsin, the priorities that legislators identify to pursue don’t always align with what the science is telling us,” ‘Change in Mind’ Director Jennifer Jones said. “Our role as a national agency and in the nonprofit sector is to really pursue policies that are aligned with science and continue to advocate for that in every venue we can.” Prior to her work at the Alliance, Jones served as associate director of the Wisconsin Children’s Trust Fund, where she helped to advocate for ACEs-related policy recommendations.

Alliance’s ‘Change in Mind’ to move needle on difficult social issues

As part of the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities initiative Change in Mind: Applying Neurosciences to Revitalize Communities, LaSalle School will work with the 10 U.S. sites and five Canadian sites chosen for the initiative to infuse, align, and accelerate established neuroscience discoveries about the effects of life-altering toxic stress into our community-based work. The goals and objectives of each of the 15 organizations will determine if this groundbreaking science can transform policies to move the needle on some of the most difficult social issues facing our communities. LaSalle’s systems focus will be on health, prevention, early education, youth development, child welfare, and workforce.

Poised to learn more, teach more

In collaboration with key partners, trauma presentations at professional conferences continue to increase, the intense interest in the first two Capital District symposiums on ‘Adverse Childhood Experiences, Trauma, and Response’ demands that it become an annual event, and localities are recognizing and seeking LaSalle’s expertise as school districts, family, courts, and others navigate the challenges of administering programs and services.

Caring for ‘whole’ child takes on new dimensions

In announcing LaSalle’s selection for the Alliance’s ‘Change in Mind’ brain science cohort, Executive Director Bill Wolff stressed the across-the board nature of the project’s impact on child caring organizations ranging from traditional school districts to family courts. “What is quite clear is that while LaSalle School will, of course, experience considerable benefits from this effort, the real objective for each of the 15 sites is to have a much larger impact that will contribute to improved services as well as enhanced preventative efforts,” he said.

ACEs engages frontline staff at UAlbany

At the conclusion of the Second Annual Symposium on Adverse Child Experiences (ACEs), Trauma, and Response, the over 500 assembled were able to ask keynote speaker, Dr. Robert Anda, and presenters David Wallace and Raymond Schimmer questions and get answers they could immediately implement upon return to their agencies, offices, and work with children and families.

ACEs symposium returns to Albany’s Capital Region in 2015

LaSalle School will join the University at Albany at their uptown campus to host Dr. Robert Anda, MD, MS, nationally recognized for advancing the study of Adverse Childhood Experiences and its significant impact on trauma, response, and clinical treatment. Event sponsors include CDPHP, THe counseling Center at LaSalle, the School of Social Welfare at UAlbany, COFCCA’s Center for Excellence and the Christian Brother’s District of Eastern North America.

ACEs: Recovering from a bad hand
NYNonprofit Press (April 2014)

ACEs are supposed to be good; in fact, four or more of them is an unbeatable hand when you are playing poker. But in the game of life – when we are talking about Adverse Child Experiences – exposure to four or more of these ACEs has been demonstrated to significantly increase the chances for a multitude of health and social problems. What are ACEs?