Community reflects on ACEs Awareness Month

The city of Elizabethton and Carter County have partnered to make November an Adverse Childhood Experiences Awareness Month, and this past week has been particularly important towards advancing that goal of awareness.

Carter County Drug Prevention Director Jilian Reece said the past week has been filled with various events and programs.

“We really worked to offer something for everyone,” Reece said.

These programs varied in scope and scale, from information about essential oils and meditation techniques to presentations from public officials, such as Thursday’s presentation from TBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Carlos Gutierrez.

“We have folks here from across the region,” she said. “It is exciting we could have him.”

These programs, she said, help raise awareness of both how serious the drug epidemic is in the region, opioids and meth in particular, as well as how the community can respond.

“We have professionals who work in all areas,” Reece said. “We can learn about how everyone is working together.”

One of her favorite programs this week, she said, was about “zen gardens” Thursday afternoon, otherwise known as Japanese rock gardens.

“This is hard work, and we want to love on some people,” Reece said. “They are able to focus on that calm place.”

Creating an awareness month for ACEs, particularly this past week, she said, helps people better understand what really goes on with trauma.

“They are really paving the way for us to understand trauma,” Reece said.

One key focus of studying ACEs and trauma, she said, is the interaction between children and their parents.

“We hope they recognize how important interaction is with their kids,” she said.

Reece said the week was meant to create a stronger sense of community, so it can be better equipped to deal with these kinds of issues and help protect against them in the future.

“The power is in us empowering other people,” she said. “We are impacting one kid at a time.”

She said this kind of outreach does not have to be limited to last week or even just in November. If a group or organization wishes for a similar presentation, Reece said they are more than happy to set something up.

“We can provide presentations any time,” she said. “This affects everyone.”

She said they can focus on specific areas if needed, using trauma-based research, just like they did this past week.

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