Film ‘Resilience’ explores effects of toxic stress

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What’s predictable is preventable. This theory is behind breakthrough research aimed at averting the physical effects caused by negative childhood experiences on an adult’s health.

“We’d all like to think of childhood as this time of joy and innocence, but for many of us it’s just not true,” says a narrator in a newly-released film, “Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope.”

The physical ramifications of Adverse Childhood Experiences are being extensively studied. Trauma to a child causes excessive amounts of stress hormones to flood the brain. The long-lasting effects — a “dangerous biological syndrome” that causes deadly diseases, shortened life expectancy and compromised mental health — are just now being understood.

“Resilience” focuses on “age-old problems meeting breakthrough science,” states KPJR Films’ website, KindredMedia.org, which produced the one-hour movie. Two special, local showings of the film will take place in April, in honor of Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month. The Yolo County Child Abuse Prevention Council, Resilient Yolo, and the Woodland Community College Foster and Kinship Care Education Program will host the events, set for Wednesday, April 24 in Woodland and Monday, April 29 in West Sacramento.

“The impact is on your behavior, is on your heart, is on your DNA. How do you deal with all that?” Dr. Nadine Burke Harris states in the film’s trailer. Harris, a pediatrician from San Francisco, is highly regarded as a pioneer in the treatment of toxic stress and was recently named California’s first Surgeon General.

Adults who experience toxic stress as children are two times more likely to develop heart disease, three times more likely to suffer from depression, and have a life expectancy 20 years lower than those without ACES. “Resilience” documents how ACES are linked to homelessness, prison time and a lengthy list of life-threatening illnesses.

“While the broader impacts of poverty worsen the risk, no segment of society is immune,” reads a film description on KindredMedia’s website. “’Resilience’, however, also chronicles the dawn of a movement that is determined to fight back. Trailblazers in pediatrics, education and social welfare are using cutting-edge science and field-tested therapies to protect children from the insidious effects of toxic stress — and the dark legacy of childhood that no child would choose.”

Each screening of the film will include light refreshments and be followed by a panel of experts who will answer questions about Yolo County resources that promote resilience in children.

“The more resilient a child is, the more likely they are to deal with negative situations, such as ACES, in a healthy way,” said Cherie Schroeder, WCC FKCE instructional specialist.

“Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope” will be shown:

  • From 6-8 p.m. Wed., April 24 in the WCC Community Room, Building 800. The college is located at 2300 E. Gibson Road in Woodland. Parking is free after 6 p.m. in student-designated lots.
  • From 6-8 p.m. Mon., April 29 at the Arthur F. Turner Community Library, 1212 Merkley Ave., in West Sacramento. Free parking is available in designated areas in front of and near the library.

The events are cosponsored by Yolo County Child Abuse Prevention Council, WCC FKCE Program, Resilient Yolo, First 5 Yolo and the Yolo County Library.

“This film presents scientific breakthroughs in a format that is understandable and applicable for everyone — medical professionals, parents and caregivers, teachers and community members,” Schroeder said. “Every adult that a child interacts with has the opportunity to prevent child abuse and promote resiliency.”

For additional information, please contact: Cherie Schroeder, WCC FKCE instructional specialist, at (530) 574-1964; or visit www.yolofostercare.com.

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