SAVANNNAH, Ga (WSAV) — On Saturday, the Armstrong campus of Georgia Southern welcomed guests from all over the Savannah area for the “Road to Resilience” symposium. This symposium discussed mental health and trauma informed education and included a panel from Cherie L. B. Trice on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs.)

The panel delved into what ACEs are as well as what the community can do to intervene with the impact they can have on developing children.

“This conference is all about building a community with resilience,” Trice said. She believes that resilience can be taught to children to help them cope with ACEs.

Trice is the Director of Development at Greenbriar Children’s Center and in her panel, she repeated a sentiment that was shared among many of the attendees and presenters: “We are the medicine.”

The idea is that the pathway to alleviate the struggles that many people face with trauma and mental health cannot only consist of medication, but also community support and outreach.

64% of Americans experience at least one ACE. In Georgia, three out of every five people studied reported having experienced ACEs. One out of every five Americans experienced three or more ACEs.

An ACE could include things like physical, sexual or emotional abuse, the separation of family members, food insecurity, and more.

This matters because ACEs overall are associated with negative health outcomes, particularly poor mental health outcomes. People with ACEs are six times more likely to develop depression and 1.47 times more likely to develop cancer. They are also more likely to develop COPD and heart disease.

Children with ACEs are also more likely to be held back a grade in school, be suspended and drop out.

While Trice pointed out that there is no solution to ACEs themselves—society can not stop all traumas—there are ways that these health and life outcomes can be avoided.

The negative impact of ACEs can be alleviated in several ways. Still, one of the most important is giving a child the opportunity to form strong connections with others in their lives. Importantly, these connections must include adult role models who can offer a sense of stability for a child.

“Don’t underestimate the ability you have to change the trajectory of a child’s life,” Trice said.

These role models can be parents, community members, teachers or any other positive adult that the child interacts with frequently.

“That kind of relationship can be enough,” Trice explained.

You can read more about the symposium by clicking or tapping on the link here.