Town Hall Meeting on ACEs

On June 3, we had a Town Hall Meeting on ACEs at the Grand Haven Community Center.


-Leigh Moerdyke (Arbor Circle/SCAN)
-Angela May (NOCH)
-Jodi Spicer (Michigan DHS)
-Donna Lowry (Ready for School)
-Ria Neiboer (Pine Rest Holland Clinic)
-Ann Heerde (CMH Program Supervisor)


-North Ottawa Community Health System
-Ottawa County
-Grand Haven Area Public Schools
-City of Grand Haven- GH Human Relations Commission


-Aldea Coffee

Mental Illness Task Force Update:

 Momentum Center has expanded to include 11 and 12 year olds

 Town Hall Meeting in Holland

 Salmon Festival- Salmon Run to eRace Stigma


 53% in Ottawa County have at least 1 ACE, 15% 4 or more ACE


Leigh Moerdyke: Arbor Circle/SCAN

 10 items that are predictors of long term health outcomes

o ACES include: Physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual, physical neglect, emotional neglect, mental illness, incarcerated relative, witnesses domestic violence, substance abuse, divorce

 5/10 have to do with child abuse and neglect

 ACE Score= Dose Response: Total number of categories of aces that each participation recorded

 As the number of ACES increases, so do the risk factors for negative health outcomes

 Toxic stress- unpredictable stress that doesn’t go away

 More than ½ of participants have at least 1 ACE

 Ottawa County- most common ACE included household mental illness and incarcerated household member

 Bigger gap between those that have 0 ACES and those that have 4 or more ACES = more of us to help reduce the gap

 Consistent with all populations

 The higher # of ACES, the more likely: obesity, chronic pain, disability, depression, heavy drinker, suicide attempt

 Life expectancy reduces by 20 years with 4 or more ACES

 Reduces economic success by 1 billion dollars

 ACEs are common, unrecognized, strong predictors of later health outcomes, interrelated

 What do we do: prevent, mitigate, treat

Jodi Spicer: Michigan DHS

 Jodi is the ACES Consultant for Public Health

 Currently working on the awareness building phase

 ACES are common, but largely unrecognized: 2/3 of adults reported having at least 1 ACE

 2016 added ACE questions to Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey

 Michigan- highest ACE was abused as children

 34% 0 ACE, 66% at least 1 ACE

 Data has served as a catalyst and connector at state level to begin to understand that we need to change the way we think about ACES/trauma

 NEAR (neuroscience, epigenetics, aces and resilience)

 Jodi also is part of the Michigan ACE Initiative which is a program to develop Master trainers for ACES (

 User friendly information tools

 Resilience

 Ted Talk

 2019- asking ACE questions of entire sample

 Focus on resilience factors as a buffer for ACES

Dr. Angela May: NOCH

 Pediatrician at NOCH, background in child abuse and neglect

 NOCH is working on open communication, looking at postpartum risk early on, depression screenings ( 2 weeks, 1 month, 2 month)

 Development of child: looking at deficits and where is this coming from, keeping in the back of the mind child neglect (language, fine motor, social, problem solving), RADAR

 Sexual and physical abuse- physical exam based

 Touch base if a family is going through divorce, try to use it as a teaching point for families

 Teenager years- starts to see the affects that happened earlier in life, get the help that they need, feel heard/seen, getting good follow up care

 Providers being informed about ACES

Donna Lowry: Ready for School

 Overstressed environment can impact brain development

 90% of brain develops by age 5

 3 Types of Stress:

o Positive- brief increase in heart rate, mild elevations in stress hormone

o Tolerable- serious, temporary stress responses, buffered by supportive relationships

o Toxic- Prolonged activation of stress response systems in the absence of protective relationships

 When the external becomes internal: how we internalize our environment

 Ready for School- multidisciplinary approach

 Reach out and Read- gives young children a foundation for success by incorporating books into pediatric care and modeling how families can read aloud together

 Accelerate access to positive childhood experiences

 Goal- have more children ready for school

Ria Neiboer: Pine Rest Holland Clinic

 Treatments- trauma recovery is possible

 Trauma- something that happens once or over time and multiple things may happen over time, unsafe, unpredictable, clips are sense of safety, unexpected, close to the soul, changes our sense of who we are, who we are to the world…

 Instead of asking: How are you doing, try asking: how are you holding up?

 Extend your human presence everywhere

 Kids might not know what they are going through is bad, it’s their normal

 If you do not like a therapist, find a new one. You have a right to choose who you work with. Clients have right to choose.

 1st step is safety in relationships/home

 Coping skills- how to reduce my anxiety, regulate sleep

o Meditation, yoga, music, calm down nervous system

 You can say no, invitation is a great thing for working with trauma survivors

Ann Heerde: CMH Program Supervisor

 Resilience- Ability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after being deformed by intense stress

 “Suck it up” “pull yourself up with your boot straps” Not using phrases with trauma or stress

 Ability to return to being healthy and hopeful after bad things like trauma or ACES happen

 Safety (emotional and physical) and security, sensitive to everyone’s trauma, everyone experiences safety and security in a different way

 Impact of 1 positive adult relationship in the child’s life

 Who is a nurturing relationship for you and who can you be a nurturing relationship for

 Socially Connected- card club, book club, faith community, etc. people need to experience connectedness

 Basic needs met- food, clothing, shelter

 Skill Development- do we have the ability to cope with stress, coping mechanisms

 Communication skills- how do we develop communications skills, making sure that people with ACES have the ability to communicate

 We need to be able to say I need this or I want this

 Parents developing resilience for children and for themselves (handout)

 Resilience survey (relationships, internal beliefs, initiative, hobbies, able to say no, self-control)

 Recognize the ability to do self-care physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, workplace/professional (hand out)

 Resilience Building Plan worksheet- self reflecting, strengthening relaxation techniques (hand out)

Krista Brower: Ottawa County ISD

 Make teachers, educators, school staff aware of ACES and how it affects them

 Next steps: build resilience in students, how can we build relationships, how can we make the environment safe and predictable, how can we teach them social/emotional learning

 Teachers have full plates already, initiative is how can we work this into the systems that are already in place, trying to make their jobs easier and give supports for students

 Prevention- how to get information to parents of students, connect them to resources

 Supporting teachers in being resilient

Q & A

1. Kids that have 4 or more ACES, seeing a counsel, taking meds, poor attendance in school

a. 4 specific factors that make up resilience: feeling socially an emotionally hopeful, 2 or more people you can count on, social connectedness, and social bridging (reaching outside social circle to get support you need, courage, resources to know where to go)

b. Include school in building resilience with student, how do we support being at school ½ day or ¾ a day, etc.

c. Kids might be afraid of school, could cause anxiety about getting ready for school, high achievers who work too hard at school will also cause stress/anxiety

Small Group Conversation

1. How familiar were you with ACES before tonight’s Town Hall Meeting?

2. What have you learned tonight?

3. How does knowing about ACES help?

Community Conversation

1. How is information about ACES helpful?

a. Building resilience

b. Importance of having shared understanding

c. Empathy and grace

2. How do we get this information to more people?

a. Share it with organizations

b. Another showing of Resilience

c. Links from speakers (Jodi Spicer DHS)

d. Share information with radio

e. Skilled training- train the trainer

f. Newspaper articles

g. Facebook

h. Getting the video onto social media

i. Incorporate it into our language and regular conversations

j. Educating teachers and students

k. Sharing your own experiences with boundaries

l. Elevator speech

m. Ask how have you been holding up instead of how are you

n. School newsletter

o. Human Resource Directors

p. Communications tools that reach people

q. Church bulletin

r. Peer to peer groups

s. Support systems

t. More standardized- find best practice followed by standardizing

u. “Momentum Center has been helpful in finding resources”

v. Posting signage about events/waiting rooms

w. Scouting, 4H

x. Using art/theatre and music to communicate

y. Churches

z. NORA/YMCA/Norton Pines, recreational and well-being

aa. Creating guidebooks that may misguide people, making sure materials are accurate and delivering the same message

bb. Website:

cc. Criminal justice systems

3. What else can we do in our community to address ACES?

a. Look at root causes

b. Non-profits helping the people they serve

c. Mental health integration in schools, brining clinicians in the schools

d. Integrating self-care routine

e. Make supportive working environments

f. Educating business leaders/decision makers to get more buy-in

g. Resources, learn and connect

h. Social Connectedness

i. Connect with the person in front of you/be present

j. Day care providers

k. Places where people got to heal themselves

l. Foster care providers