‘Resilient Idaho’ Offers Hope After Traumatic Experiences

Child abuse, neglect and growing up in a seriously dysfunctional household are all Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs for short. Left unresolved or untreated, these experiences can create childhood trauma and toxic stress that can last a lifetime.

Research shows that at least five of the ten leading causes of death, such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure, can be rooted in ACEs. They can even shorten a person’s lifespan by up to 20 years.

The new documentary Resilient Idaho: Hope Lives Here looks into the ACEs research and how ACES affect people here in Idaho. Most importantly, the film explores resilience, which could be considered an antidote to ACEs.

Community health experts uncover what makes people resilient and share powerful stories of how people have overcome tragedies. Data clearly show that ACEs don’t have to be predictive, and resilience can help people bounce forward after trauma and tragedy.

The film airs on Idaho Public Television on Tuesday, Feb. 16, at 8 p.m. and repeats Monday, Feb. 22, at 9 p.m. It will also be available for free streaming beginning Feb. 16 on the PBS Video app and online at video.idahoptv.org.

“Idaho is not immune to the impact of childhood trauma and, in fact, we experience higher rates than much of the broader United States,” says Jean Mutchie, Community Health Manager at St. Luke’s Health System. “The stories shared in Resilient Idaho: Hope Lives Here are profound and powerful, yet they are not unique. It is imperative that we link arms to address trauma and work collaboratively to foster resilient communities where children and families thrive.”

Roger Sherman, Executive Director of Idaho Children’s Trust Fund/Prevent Child Abuse Idaho, says, “The pandemic has shown us what we too often take for granted: We need each other. Resilient Idaho: Hope Lives Here is not just a study on the impacts of childhood trauma; it is much more about how family and community support makes us resilient, makes us stronger, even in the face of adversity.”

Resilient Idaho: Hope Lives Here is made possible through funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Leaders, Optum Idaho, the Friends of Idaho Public Television, the Idaho Public Television Endowment, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. “We are proud to produce this project for the citizens of Idaho,” says Jeff Tucker, Director of Content at Idaho Public Television. “It’s what we do best, telling the stories that have an impact and to help educate our viewers.”

Participants in the Film

Tracey Karst, Sandpoint – Tracey Karst is a teacher and adoptive parent of four special needs children. She sees the effects of ACEs on a daily basis both in her classroom and in her home. Meet her family and hear their encouraging story of overcoming trauma.

Sean Blackwell, Boise – Sean Blackwell is a criminology professor, but he can’t remember much of his childhood — a telling sign of trauma. Hear what helped him become resilient and how he is getting involved in the community to promote healing and change.

Keith Orchard, Coeur d’Alene – Keith Orchard is the Mental Health Specialist for the Coeur d’Alene School District.For the past several years, he has presented trauma informed training in the district with the goal to shift how adults see and respond to children who are struggling by understanding root causes and working to meet the need behind the behavior.Keith’s training equips teachers and administrators with understanding and tools to support, respond and teach self-regulation skills to children who are acting out. This has completely transformed their approach.

Luis Granados, Nampa – Luis Granados grew up in the gang culture and found himself in jail as a young person. He was able to turn the negative experiences he faced growing up and use them as a skill to help him reach young people in a unique and meaningful way. He is the Executive Director of Breaking Chains Academy of Development. The nonprofit in Canyon County works with gang-involved youth to attain their education and develop life skills.

Shannon McGuire, Boise – Shannon McGuire is a community-minded entrepreneur and leader in Idaho. Her life today is a stark contrast to where she grew up: South Central Los Angeles. She lost her brother in a traumatic and tragic accident at the age of nine. Even worse, people blamed her for his death. Learn how she is able to choose joy and positivity even after such a rough start to life.

Dr. Bryan Taylor, PhD, JD, Caldwell – Dr. Bryan Taylor is the Prosecuting Attorney for Canyon County. His office is very familiar with the ACEs study and takes a proactive approach in looking for ways to identify trauma and better support victims. His team works hard to reduce crime while pursuing justice. Bryan is very involved in the community and believes that civic engagement is key to building a safer and healthier community.

Becky Johnson, Meridian – Becky Johnson is a therapist and former youth pastor with two masters degrees. Growing up, she experienced massive trauma and has a 10 out of 10 ACE score. Abuse and neglect could have determined her life, but instead she overcame unthinkable tragedy and now lives a successful and meaningful life where she helps others heal.

Holly Whitworth, Idaho Falls – Holly Whitworth is the Program Manager of the Parents as Teachers Program through Eastern Idaho Public Health. This free service helps to support families by building their child’s intellectual, language, social and physical development from birth to age three. Holly has personally seen the power of this mentorship program break the cycle of trauma in families.

Preview of Resilient Idaho: Hope Lives Here

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