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October 3rd, 2016 by Equipping Youth

Equipping Youth has served this community for many years by sharing hope and resiliency training through our curriculum, Powerful Choices, with tens of thousands of youth. Ruth Anne has written faith based lessons for after school programming using the activities of the Powerful Choices lessons. Originally she wrote it for the Marion Cares after school project.


Here is one more example of what “resiliency” training looks like in the life of a child.


Jan’s story begins in a family that provided little security due to poverty and substance abuse. Her dad faced serious alcohol addiction and aggression until he committed suicide when Jan was 12, which led to her mom’s increasing alcoholism. Both her parents, Jan said, grew up with many Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) in their childhood. “I was very scared as a child,” Jan said. “People saw me as shy, but I was actually terrified and disconnected.” Jan is now a successful woman, parent and school counselor.


Early childhood experiences such as Jan’s shape the quality of our adult lives. Negative experiences in childhood can derail a child’s development, and lead to a host of health and social challenges throughout a lifetime. Starting in 2012, Iowa stakeholders joined other states in studying ACEs data in our population through the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). Analysis of Iowa’s data shows that most people experience childhood trauma, and the more types of trauma someone experiences in childhood, the more likely they are to have a wide range of poor outcomes in adulthood. The ACEs Study gives us a new way to look at the health and social issues we are working to address in our communities — and is inspiring a movement to respond.


Emerging research shows that building caring connections promotes positive experiences for children from the start and helps those with a history of trauma heal. Through hope and resiliency*, the health and wellbeing of children and adults in our communities may have a brighter future. Research shows that the key to building resiliency is to have supportive, responsive relationships with caring adults as early in life as possible. These relationships can help buffer against the impact of toxic stress and help youth build other resiliency factors within themselves, including feeling a sense of hope, learning strategies to manage stress, and developing positive self-esteem.


The ARC model for resilience that Jan learned to use focuses on:

  • Attachment: Jan’s greatest support in this area came when a friend led her to understand God’s love and redemption. Through faith teachings, modeling, and support, Jan learned about healthy love and how to raise a family.
  • Regulation: Education, counseling, and the church helped strengthen her regulation skills and boundaries.
  • Competence: Being a naturally strong reader helped her succeed through education. Jan set the goal of going to college, achieving a master’s degree, and is now pursuing a doctorate through the University of Iowa.

*Resiliency is the ability to thrive, adapt and cope despite experiencing tough times.


Central Iowa ACEs Coalition. Beyond ACEs: Building Hope &Resiliency in Iowa. 2016. For this entire report and Jan’s full story beginning on page 10 more information, visit  http://www.iowaaces360.org/uploads/1/0/9/2/10925571/acesreport2016_snglpgs-final.pdf