Resilient Kids Conference begins in Greenville connecting childhood experiences to health

GREENVILLE, NC (WITN) - The Resilient Kids Conference began Thursday in Greenville and continues through Friday with community members and health care professionals discussing how adverse childhood experiences can affect long term health outcomes.

Conference presenters say childhood experiences, both good and bad, have an enormous impact on long term health outcomes and success for an individual.

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) have been linked to chronic health conditions such as cancer, heart disease and stroke, high risk behaviors such as smoking and alcohol and drug use, and psychosocial difficulties like high dropout rates, poor academic achievement, and chronic unemployment.

Eastern AHEC's Director of Mental Health Education, Karen Koch, said prevention and early intervention can be key to mitigating those effects, and halting the long term negative impact on a person's life.

The two-day conference started with an overview of ACES and the impact of traumatic stress exposure on children while discussing the benefits of trauma-informed care.

Day One (Thursday) of the conference focused on specific strategies for use in schools, evidence-based treatment that can be used in mental health settings, and an update on upcoming significant changes to the way Juvenile Justice will be implemented and the potential impact to the way communities work with youth.

On Friday, the keynote presentation focuses on building trust and positive relationships through a trauma informed lens. Attendees will focus on family engagement, successful integration of trauma informed care into the schools.

Edgecombe County leaders were recognized for work in their county with utilized human-centered design and systems thinking to build a shared strategy around preventing and reducing the prevalence of trauma, adverse childhood experiences, and toxic stress.

A collective impact exercise is planned for the end of the second day, focusing on problem identification and solutions that can be enacted in home communities.

The program was sponsored by Eastern AHEC and was open to social workers, psychologist, counselors and many other youth and health care groups.