The Bitterroot Cares for Kids Network is starting support programming as a follow-up to their August conference on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) “ACEs in the Bitterroot.”
The conference was on identifying, preventing and alleviating the consequences of childhood abuse and neglect.
The first support programming is a book-club type of discussion group that meets from noon to 1 p.m. on Wednesdays Oct. 12 – Nov. 16.
The conference in August talked about a simple on-line test that helps people focus on their current mental health by asking questions about their past. The ACEs test asks 10 questions that are scored on a scale from 0 to 10.
Faylee Favara, prevention program manager for Western Montana Addictions Services, said the goal of the test is to help people live healthier, happier lives but warns that it can be “life-altering.”
“We want people to be informed and be aware but we also want people to respect their health,” Favara said. “If you decide to do the ACEs test, one thing we suggest is to prepare yourself because you may learn some things that are unsettling. If you do the scale, you might want to look for outside support, research and learn more and it creates awareness, it might open some old wounds.”
The book discussion group will examine a series of books about how the community can embrace protective factors. The first book the group will discuss Dr. Anthony Biglan’s “The Nurture Effect, How the Science of Human Behavior Can Improve Our Lives & Our World.”
“The first book does not say the word ACE,” Favara said. “But he has remarkable things in there about what communities, schools and anybody can do to develop an environment where people are healthy and happy. It does talk about why people are unhealthy and what we can do to remedy that.”
Kris Bayer, who also runs the Socrates think tank in the Bitterroot Public Library, will lead the book discussion groups.
“She is a wonderful person in the community and is helping us by hosting,” Favara said. “We ask for a $20 donation if at all possible to cover some costs, but the discussion group is open to anyone.”
The six-week series will have a variety of books and attendees will get the full list including the book “Childhood Disrupted” and a book by Michael Trainer who rated a zero on the ACEs scale and raised a zero family.
Favara said the ACEs test is not a new concept but a study done by Kaiser Permanente, from 1995 to 1997, where 17,000 middle-age Americans took the 10-question survey.
“They discovered how high they rated on the scale and their current life conditions,” Favara said. “Smokers were high on the scale, as were obese, diabetes, heart troubles, lung problems, they found people high on the scale were living with these conditions. When you really look at the study, it really puts into perspective how important where we came from is to our health and well-being.”
The Bitterroot Cares for Kids Network book discussion group meets from noon to 1 p.m. on Wednesdays, Oct. 12 – Nov. 16, at 209 N. 10th in Hamilton. The Bitterroot Cares for Kids Network is community members and non-profit organizations working together to help kids and families thrive.
For more information, contact Bitterroot Cares for Kids Network at email@example.com or 406-532-9149.