Ardmore Behavioral Health Collaborative hoping to conduct more ACEs training sessions

Plamedie Ifasso
The Daily Ardmoreite

In 1995, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente began studying adverse childhood experiences, and its effects on issues in adulthood. Over 17,000 people completed a survey regarding their childhood experiences and current health and behavior, and the study showed a correlation between adverse childhood expereinces and future high-risk behavior and health complications. 

Ardmore Behavioral Health Collaborative has been working to raise awareness of ACEs and mitigate their effects by building a better trauma informed community. Earlier this month, United Way of South Central Oklahoma partnered with two certified community resilience trainers, Ellen Roberts, Director of the Ardmore Behavioral Health Collaborative, and Jodi Woydziak, of Community Youth Services and sponsored the Near Science: Beyond Aces training sessions. 

Roberts said the training sessions received positive feedback, and although they don’t currently have any plans, she hopes to be able to do more sessions in the future. 

“It went really well,” Roberts said. “We are going to be doing more in the future. We don’t have any plans at the moment, and there are some connections being made. The Health Department is working to do some internally that we will probably be a part of. There has been interest from schools to do [the sessions] for professional development at the beginning of the school year.” 

ACEs are childhood experiences that lead to high-risk behavior and mental and physical health issues in adulthood. ACEs are categorized into three groups: abuse, neglect and household dysfunction, and the categories are then further divided into 10 subcategories. 

Ellen Roberts and Jodi Woydziak, certified community resilience trainers, going through an ACEs session.

The CDC-Kaiser ACE study found that the higher an individual’s ACE score was, the greater their risk was for many mental, physical and behavioral issues in adulthood. 

“The important thing to remember is that it’s predictive of a population not necessarily an individual,” Roberts said. “Someone may have an ACE score of 10, and they’ve experienced every single ACE. But they may not have any [issues] versus somebody that has one ACE may have all of those things. It’s good at predicting things in a population but not necessarily individually.” 

Roberts said that raising awareness for ACE is key because it impacts the way the community interacts with one and another and increases empathy. 

“As you raise awareness about ACEs, it increases those things,” Roberts said. “Then that changes the way we think about how a nonprofit and how they provide their services. Or a mental health agency, and they provide their services. Or even a business, and how they interact with their customers and employees. It really has applications across many sectors.”