Highlights from the Midwest ACEs Summit – Health & Medicine Policy Research Group

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Highlights from the Midwest ACEs Summit

October 15, 2018 Written By: Health & Medicine Policy Research Group (HMPRG)

The Healing Trauma, Healthy Communities Conference took place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin from September 26th to the 29th. Highlighting the trauma-informed work being conducted in Wisconsin and throughout the Midwest, the conference brought together stakeholders from a variety of sectors including medicine, public health, the legal and justice system, and education. Keynote speakers included L. Song Richardson, Dean of the University of California at Irvine’s School of Law, who discussed implicit bias and how to address the trauma of systemic racism, and Rob Anda and Laura Porter, who presented on how ACEs education can lead to self-healing communities and empowerment.

The conference was a striking example of how the field has grown in both numbers and understanding of ACEs and trauma in recent years. Over 1,300 people from across the Midwest were in attendance showing our region’s increasing commitment to addressing individual and community trauma. In comparison, just three years ago attendance at the conference was just 300.

This year’s event featured an important focus on historical trauma, particularly slavery and racism, and their impact on trauma across generations, indicative of the field’s growing understanding that recognizing the history of individuals and populations is key to addressing health and social challenges.

The Illinois ACEs Response Collaborative was represented in three of the many breakout sessions. Members Audrey Stillerman and Pat Rush presented on their non-profit THEN (Trauma, Health Equity, and Neurobiology), describing its mission to bring ACEs education to Chicago medical schools and other healthcare training programs and highlighting the accomplishments from its first year. Margie Schaps, Marlita White, Colleen Cicchetti, Shirley Fleming, and Sarah Hess presented on the efforts of several Chicago-based sectors to incorporate ACEs education and advocacy into their work. With examples from hospitals, health departments, faith-based organizations, the legal system, and the Collaborative itself, the panel discussed how ACEs and trauma-informed work cannot be the jurisdiction of one discipline, but must be incorporated on multiple levels.

All told, the Healing Trauma, Healthy Communities Conference was an exciting opportunity for Collaborative members to connect with professionals and collaborate on new methods of care and advocacy for ACEs and trauma-informed practice.