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ACEs and Family Resiliency

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and toxic stress are among the biggest health issues facing families and our community.  They can have immediate impacts for children, including struggling in school and not making friends, and long-term impact to their physical and mental health, such as obesity and heart disease. The encouraging news is that with some low barrier changes, a family can significantly reduce the effects and find resiliency to help them through the challenging times.

ACEs and Your Child

In the mid-1990s, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) was studied by Vincent Felitti, Robert Anda, and colleagues. They asked adults about their childhood adversities and found that those with more ACEs or who have experienced toxic stress (long-term exposure to stress) had negative health, mental health, and social outcomes.

They created a simple test to determine what a person’s ACEs score is. which has been expanded. The test asks about:

  • Physical, sexual or verbal abuse

  • Physical or emotional neglect

  • Separation or divorce

  • A family member with mental illness

  • A family member addicted to drugs or alcohol

  • A family member who is in prison

  • Witnessing a parent being abused


Negative outcomes can include struggling in school, emotional or behavioral problems, ADHD, low employment, heart disease, obesity, depression, substance misuse, suicide attempts, and more. This sounds scary, and it is, but the good news is we can work towards fixing it.

Having zero ACEs doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t have negative health outcomes. The lack of mitigating factors (also known as protective factors), such as not having a trusting adult in your childhood, can result in similar outcomes. (Click here to learn more about mitigating factors.)

What can be done?

  • The number one thing you can do for your child is to have a trusting adult in their life - your friend, a family member, teacher or coach, etc. (Click here for more information about trusting adults.)

  • Encourage healthy attachment and parental affection by offering sensitive and consistent caregiving. This can result in better social and emotional development, especially in early childhood.

  • Invest time in parental education. Learn about child and adolescent development and how protective factors can help reduce the negative outcomes.

  • Three periods of natural development happen in early childhood (leading up to kindergarten), the teen years, and the transition into adulthood. These are vulnerable times and can offer an opportunity to counter the potential risks by improving on the mitigating factors.

  • Increase the number of positive life experiences (PLEs) you have. (Click here for more information on PLEs.)

  • Try to create better habits as a family to improve the health for everyone. (Click here for more information about changing habits.)

  • Financial hardships

  • Racism

  • Bullying

  • Community violence

  • Neighborhood safety

  • Living in foster care


Annual Meeting

Everyone is invited to attend our annual meeting on Wednesday, June 26, at 5:30 p.m., at Parks Place Community Resource Center.​ We'll be voting on new and returning board members as well as learning more about what we've been up to and plans for the coming year.

Transgender Support Groups

Every third Thursday the Greater Rockingham LGBTQIA+ Group offers free peer support groups for transgender folks. Teens, 13-17, meet from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., and adults, 18+, meet from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. The meetings are held at Parks Place. Snacks will be provided. The groups will be led by a transgender staff member.

March 2024 Newsletter

Want to see what we're up to? Download our newsletter for updates, achievements, and upcoming events! Click here to read.

LGBTQIA+ Hangout

Join us for a FREE hangout for LGBTQIA+ members, ages 18 and old. Stop by Parks Place from 2-4pm on the second Saturday of each month for writing, crafting, reading, gaming, or just hanging out. 

Online Narcan training
If you've picked up a package of Narcan or Naloxone and don't know how to use it, check out this video with instructions from the Vermont Department of Health.

Windham County calendar

Discover fun area activities for families.

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