Exactly what are ACEs?


To help readers understand the information contained in the article about Jim Sporleder’s retirement, Mark Brown and I offer some perspective from the local Children’s Resilience Initiative we oversee.

Adverse Childhood Experiences — ACEs — are not “assigned.” If one’s childhood included any of 10 categories of negative experiences — either maltreatment (abuse or neglect) or dysfunctional family management categories (such as alcoholism, drug addiction, mental illness) — each experience is totaled to become the ACE Score.

ACEs are prevalent, pervasive and common. In a typical high school setting, 43 percent of students would be experiencing three or more of these negative experiences. It is important to note that Lincoln High School is not unique in its student population. Walla Walla High School, DeSales Catholic High School and Walla Walla Valley Academy also have representative ACE populations — as does every business and every other point of human gathering.

A survey suggests 62 percent of Washingtonians have at least one ACE. ACEs are widespread in our families, our communities and our nation. ACEs are the No. 1 chronic health epidemic and cost us millions of dollars.

ACEs are preventable, and an ACE history is not destiny — we know individuals are capable of changing the trajectory of negative health outcomes. That is why the Children’s Resilience Initiative dedicates its collective energy to building awareness of ACEs and of resilience that can buffer negative impacts of ACEs, leading to nurturance and restorative brain development over a life span.

Jim Sporleder is a champion of providing this information. His fearless dedication to advancing an understanding of the impact of trauma and how to help students address ACEs and move forward with resilience is a hallmark of his passion for the students he has served.

His 28-year record in education documents his outstanding success as an administrator, teacher and individual.

The reasons for his retirement are personal and specific to his own path, and it is overly simplistic to assume working with students with a trauma history was a reason for his stepping down.

The community owes Jim Sporleder more than it will ever be able to repay with mere gratitude.

The most important part of this story is the implied question: How do we move the trauma-informed-care movement forward in Walla Walla?

That movement is happening nationally, thanks in part to significant work being done in Walla Walla by the dedicated CRI partners.

How do we extend that movement to every corner, every school, every business and every family of our community?

CRI (resiliencetrumpsaces.org) invites you to join in that movement!

Teri Barila

Walla Walla


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