United Way sponsoring training focusing on adverse childhood experiences and community impact

Plamedie Ifasso
The Daily Ardmoreite

United Way of Southern Oklahoma is sponsoring Near Science Beyond ACES, a training session aimed at building a self-healing community, Friday at Southern Tech. 

United Way has partnered with two certified community resilience trainers, Ellen Roberts, Director of the Ardmore Behavioral Health Collaborative, and Jodi Woydziak, of Community Youth Services, to offer two sessions.

The first session from 8am to noon is designated for the public such as parents, teachers, business leaders, public health officials and even adults living with their own childhood trauma. 

The second session, from 1 p.m. through 3 p.m., will be tailored for law enforcement and offers two mental health CLEET hours. The training sessions will focus on the science behind adverse childhood experiences, its impact on the community and how the community can mitigate some of the negative effects of those experiences. 

Roberts said the first training will be more in-depth about the science behind adverse childhood experiences and community impact, and the second training will focus on the ACE study and specific issues that are prevalent in the community. 

“That’s one of the cool things about this framework,” Roberts said. “It’s really large, and you can pull in different modules for what is needed for the audience. We have some specific information to homelessness, and that’s an issue that is really prevalent to our community right now.”

United Way Executive Director Daela Echols said one of the things her organization promotes is a healthy community. As soon as United Way heard that Roberts and Woydziak were getting certified as trainers, the organization immediately reached out to them to see if they could collaborate. 

“If we can make our community more knowledgeable about [adverse childhood experiences] and motivate them to learn more about them, then we can make the community more impactful,” Echols said. 

Roberts (left) and Woydziak (right)  preparing for the training sessions.

Roberts said she and Woydziak are a part of the Self-Healing Communities Group hosted by the Potts Family Foundation, so when the foundation put out the word about the opportunity to become certified community resilience trainers, they both applied. 

The training was created by Dr. Robert Anda, the co-principal investigator of the ACE study, and Laura Porter of ACE Interface. Roberts said 30 people statewide were trained including mental health professionals, community leaders, children’s pastors, county health departments and members of the Chickasaw Nation. 

Woydziak said her goal for the event is for everyone to come out of the training being more aware of how to start building a self-healing community. 

“It really comes down to each individual person.” Woydziak said. “It’s not a coalition that we have to put together. It’s just how you can look at somebody a little bit differently in order to help them battle some of these outcomes that could happen from those adverse childhood experiences.” 

Roberts said besides just education, the training sessions also aim to help individuals and the groups figure out the best way to handle trauma. 

“How does that change your individual interactions and how does that change your community,“ Roberts said. “So you can look at it through the lens of how our organizations, businesses and schools are handling trauma and advocating for some best practices there. As more and more people become informed, I think the more we’ll be able to affect that change.” 

Roberts said after the training, anyone interested can reach out and schedule a session for their specific organization. 

“I explain it as if you have children, if you are around children or if you were a child, this is something that’s for you.” Woydziak said. 

Space for the training is limited and those interested can RSVP to Syndi Collins at (580) 223-1401 or (580) 490-1655, or email sydni@uwsco.org.