Sesame Street will be help­ing Mem­phis kids with their ACEs

The Commercial Appeal - - Viewpoint - Your Turn Guest colum­nist

child de­serves to grow up with a strong con­nec­tion to a car­ing adult and a lov­ing fam­ily. But for one in four kids in Shelby County, a sup­port­ive re­la­tion­ship with a par­ent fig­ure isn’t so easy to come by.

The le­gacy of ad­verse child­hood ex­pe­ri­ences (ACEs) – rang­ing from phys­i­cal, emo­tional, or sex­ual abuse; phys­i­cal or emo­tional ne­glect; the loss of a par­ent through ill­ness, death, di­vorce, or in­car­cer­a­tion; or do­mes­tic vi­o­lence or sub­stance abuse within the fam­ily – places bar­ri­ers in their path to a pro­pi­tious adult­hood.

As the num­ber of ACEs a child has ex­pe­ri­enced in­creases, so too does the risk for a range of neg­a­tive out­comes while grow­ing up, such as de­pres­sion, school fail­ure, ad­dic­tion, obe­sity, di­a­betes, and the adop­tion of risky adult be­hav­iors that can lead to heart dis­ease, cancer, and other ill­nesses.

But ACEs aren’t des­tiny. And Mem­phi­ans should be proud of the fact that be­cause of our ded­i­ca­tion to un­der­stand­ing and work­ing to ad­dress ad­verse child­hood ex­pe­ri­ences, our city is at the fore­front of what has be­come a na­tional move­ment to pre­vent toxic stress among chil­dren and sup­port their healthy de­vel­op­ment.

This month, the city wel­comes a new ally in this work – one that comes with a five-decade track record of help­ing kids grow up stronger, kinder, and smarter: Big Bird and his pals.

Be­gin­ning this month, the ACE Aware­ness Foun­da­tion and its Univer­sal Par­ent­ing Places (UPPs) will work with Sesame Street in Com­mu­ni­ties (SSIC) to bring free re­sources and train­ing to the city in sup­port of our ef­forts to foster fam­i­lies’ and kids’ re­silience, nur­ture their phys­i­cal and men­tal health, and pro­vide ad­di­tional crit­i­cal early learn­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties.

The UPPs, op­er­at­ing in four lo­ca­tions, of­fer pro­fes­sional coun­sel­ing, emo­tional sup­port, stress-re­duc­tion ac­tiv­i­ties, and re­fer­rals for fam­ily-re­lated con­cerns, as well as a range of ac­tiv­i­ties that pro­mote par­ent-child bond­ing – all at no cost to par­ents or care­givers. With ac­cess to SSIC’s con­tent, mul­ti­me­dia tools, and pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment, our sites will be bet­ter equipped to help adults rec­og­nize trauma, deal with its ef­fects, and nur­ture the chil­dren in their care, en­sur­ing that they feel safe and se­cure.

Big Bird, Cookie Mon­ster, Elmo, and the rest of the Sesame Street fam­ily are com­ing not only to the foun­da­tion’s Univer­sal Par­ent­ing Places but also to the Porter-Leath Early Child­hood Academy, a state-ofthe-art preschool and teacher trainEvery ing in­sti­tute, to pro­mote part­ner­ships and help de­velop Sesame Ac­tion Plans that cre­ate safe spa­ces for learn­ing and growth among kids who need them most.

Mem­phis leads the na­tion when it comes to un­der­stand­ing and work­ing to ad­dress ad­verse child­hood ex­pe­ri­ences. City part­ners are demon­strat­ing, ev­ery day, that it’s pos­si­ble to pro­duce ACE-aware com­mu­ni­ties that are ded­i­cated to pre­vent­ing ACEs as well as mit­i­gat­ing their neg­a­tive ef­fects. They are chart­ing a path that is chang­ing the way trauma is un­der­stood and dealt with, and invit­ing oth­ers to take the jour­ney with them.

The ACE Aware­ness Foun­da­tion, as a hub for in­for­ma­tion and in­no­va­tion for com­bat­ting ACEs, is poised to sup­port our grow­ing com­mu­nity of fam­i­lies, ed­u­ca­tors, faith lead­ers, non­profit man­agers, elected of­fi­cials, law en­force­ment of­fi­cers, and health care providers who are al­ready im­prov­ing par­ent­ing prac­tices and pro­mot­ing the well-be­ing of chil­dren in Mem­phis and Shelby County.

Now we’ll have the added strength of an ally trusted in 150 coun­tries, one with a 50-year his­tory of boost­ing early learn­ing, emo­tional health, and so­cial de­vel­op­ment for young peo­ple around the world.

Renée Wil­son-Sim­mons, DrPH, is ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the ACE Aware­ness Foun­da­tion.

Sesame St. char­ac­ter Elmo is seen Tues­day, Dec. 4, af­ter a news con­fer­ence an­nounc­ing Sesame Street in Com­mu­ni­ties part­ner­ship ini­tia­tive to sup­port early child­hood de­vel­op­ment in Mem­phis and Shelby County at Porter-Leath Early Child­hood Academy. BRAD VEST / THE COM­MER­CIAL AP­PEAL

Renée Wil­son-Sim­mons

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.