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The Importance of ACE's

Simply put, Adverse Childhood Experiences aka ACE’s are ten questions that explain the risk for health complications later in life. The science is truly shocking and irrefutable. Which is why II had to do something to try to mitigate it, at least in our community, where I can show the true value of having all health resources under one site, Choice MD.

How on earth am I going to stop ACE’s in our community?

The simple version is by making it a community effort and using Choice MD as a connector to all the resources in the community that are aided to help improve their lives. The reality behind it is I’m about 9 months into the campaign and I’m excited to share with you the news and an overview of the plan.

I initially had the idea when I attended the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce Legislative Round-Up at University of Miami back in March. I saw two individuals from our nonprofit partners, Representative Duran, and it happened to be right after I had discovered the science behind ACE’s. I quickly gathered my partners asked if they would be up to the task and then approached Rep. Duran to share my plan. The details are below:

  1. expand on the ACE's test to include additional stressors including food insecurities, death of a family member due to COVID., etc.
  2. universal testing of our children in school settings
  3. increased counseling at schools to also help with logistics of support programs
  4. adding a class for PTG - post traumatic growth aka (Power to Grow) where kids will attend support programs virtually according to the stressor. i.e. if a child experienced violence in the home they connect with Be Strong Intl. to learn ways to break the cycle and live in a healthy way, or death due to COVID they connect with Children's Bereavement Center if needed, etc. If no support program is needed for the child they will take the time to learn mindfulness. We should take this time to also prepare them for the future.

I have since met with Board member Mari Tere Rojas, Sally Alayon and the entire mental health department at the Miami Dade County School Administration several times.

In the midst of the progress I was making at the school level, I joined forces with Nelson Hincapie and Madeleine Thakur. Madeleine is the President of the Children’s Movement of Florida and rightly so, she is brilliant and has the children’s best intentions in every decision she makes. Nelson is the President of The Voices for Children Foundation and I really can’t think of a better person to advocate for those orphans, he has a true gift of connecting with people like no other. Nelson and I met through Madeleine and we connected over the fact that we both share an ACE score of 7 and we simply understand each other through our hardships. I am eternally grateful for all the help they have provided and between their knowledge of the community and my gusto, I am confident that together we will change the future for our young Miamians.

The concept regarding mitigating ACE's will require the involvement from the entire community. Schools and medical professionals to identify children affected by ACE's, counselors and nonprofits to direct the resources for management. Medical Professionals will also screen patients for ACE's. Parents in the general public will learn about ACE's through their children's homework, this could be possible if we incorporate a class on mental wellness surrounding ACE's. Government officials and policy makers are needed to support the initiative and truly make it happen. Business owners will have their own reasons to mitigate ACE’s, but let’s start at the beginning.

Why is it beneficial to universally screen our kids for ACE’s every year?

For starters, it will most likely give teachers more empathy and understanding when trying to control an unruly child in class. Let’s look at it this way, kids aren’t usually taught ways to deal with stress so when things stress them out at home, this can play out in the classroom. More importantly, it gives us the ability to connect the child and their family with the resources necessary to stop future traumatic experiences and teach the child to overcome adversity. This is the most important step as it will change the health of our kids for generations to come.

Why is it beneficial for business owners to work to improve ACE scores of their employees?

A lot of ACE scores are generational. From a business perspective, it boils down to the dollar. Solving ACE’s could save businesses on a whole, billions in health insurance annually. The health complications linked to ACE’s are Diabetes, Cancer, Ischemic Heart disease, Depression. Etc., The list goes on and just as Benjamin Franklin said “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

We are too smart of a society to rebuild after the pandemic without considering ACE’s.

Why should the judicial system look at ACE scores of offenders?

Same issue, ACE’s are generational and being that they happen as a child they are learned through example. Therefore, it would give us a better understanding of why things are playing out the way they are. Perhaps in some instances, best practice would be to follow baby court. After all, the main focus is to ensure future kids have the least amount of traumatic experiences and taking them from the parents would make things worse. Let’s change the narrative when possible and give the parents resources to succeed.

What is B.A.B.Y. Court?

I had no idea what baby court was or that it even existed. This is a prime example of the wealth of knowledge I acquire just by sitting with Nelson and Madeleine.

Early Childhood Court, commonly known as “B.A.B.Y.”, is a family-focused program that uses child-parent psychotherapy to assist families during their involvement with the child welfare system. B.A.B.Y.’s main priority is the safety and well-being of children. During separation, B.A.B.Y. will assist families in achieving their goals through the following services:

  1. Individual counseling
  2. Parenting education and counseling
  3. Case management
  4. Therapeutic visitation
  5. Community resource navigation assistance
  6. Integrated decision team staffings
  7. Aftercare support post reunification

B.A.B.Y. is composed of a team of individuals who work closely to enhance the parent-child relationship during this difficult time of separation, and focus on the completion of case plan services to ensure permanency is achieved as soon as safely possible.

Why should doctors be familiar with a patient’s ACE score?

It’s every physicians job to improve the health of their patients. This would give them the full picture as to why a particular treatment may not be working. Here’s an interesting fact, the founder of this science, Dr. Vincent Felitti stumbled across the science when trying to figure out why his patients weren’t keeping their weight loss off. You can learn more about that story here.

High ACE scores would give doctor’s a better understanding of why treatments may not be working.

But more importantly and from the words of Dr. Vincent Fellitti “The significance of this is huge, plays out in a number of different ways. Most of which we avoid thinking about or taking about, or certainly asking about. The key finding was that with an ACE score 6 or higher there was a shortening of life expectancy of almost 20 years.”

I’ve said this time and time again, ACE’s has given a true purpose to Choice MD and I will make it my lifetime effort to ensure another child doesn’t have to face the uncertainty of future health outcomes because of a rough start in life.

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