WV ACEs Coalition Launches Connections Matter


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The WV ACES Coalition is launching the availability of Connections Matter®, an innovative, hands-on training for counselors, teachers, law enforcement, healthcare providers, parents and more! Professionals across the state are being trained to help communities support individuals who have been affected by Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES). This effort focuses on building relationships, connecting resources and building strong communities across West Virginia. The training teaches how stress impacts the brain and why relationships improve individual and community well-being. Trainees leave with practical ideas for taking action in their work, faith, neighborhood and friend networks.    

Studies show that as communities work together to build relationships, resilience improves, and childhood trauma and related problems decrease. The WV ACES Coalition is bringing the Connections Matter® initiative to help communities all across the state support their neighborhoods, organizations, congregations, and schools through workshops, presentations, and conversations. “Caring relationships strengthen families from the start and give parents with a history of trauma an opportunity to heal. You can take action. Listen to someone’s story, spend quality time with a child, welcome a new neighbor, or help a stressed parent. Together we can develop the caring, connected community we all need to thrive.” – Jim McKay, WV ACES Coalition Co-Chair.

ACEs not only affect youth, but these traumatic experiences are also carried into adulthood affecting every aspect of their lives: emotional and physical health, relationships, economic stability, and more. “Understanding the meaning and scope of Adverse Childhood Experiences is the Rosetta Stone for deciphering the profound public health problems we are seeing in our State and our Nation.” – Dr. Michael Brumage, WV ACEs Coalition Co-Chair.

Recent research shows that experiencing trauma, especially as a child, can dramatically change the brain and increase the risk of health and social problems throughout a lifetime and is a major contributing factor to addiction, including opioids. Research also shows that caring relationships can prevent and mitigate the effects of trauma. 

Individuals and families impacted by ACES experience many forms of overwhelming stress, often feel isolated  and find unhealthy ways to cope when they don’t have support. When these stressors continue long-term, the  risks of health and social problems increase. The good news is that research increasingly shows that building connections with the children, families, and adults in our lives develops healthier brains, more supportive relationships and stronger communities. “Our ACE score is a simple snapshot of the adversity we have experienced in childhood. There are many ways we can buffer the impact and heal with trauma informed practices, resiliency building and healthy connections.”Kathy Szafran, MA, LPC, WV ACEs Coalition Co-Chair.

To request a Connections Matter training, visit www.wvaces.org

The ACES Coalition of West Virginia includes over 300 different organizations and individuals working together to improve the health and well-being of all West Virginians by reducing the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and preventing their occurrence. The CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study is one of the largest investigations of childhood abuse and neglect and later-life health and well-being. We are working to apply that study and additional ACEs research findings to our work in West Virginia. 

For more information, www.wvaces.org.

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