WINS Combating Childhood Trauma — Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE)

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By April Griffin, Alliance for Greater Works™

Who would have thought that childhood trauma could be a determining factor of future illnesses, disease, and educational aptitude. According to Children’s Clinic Pediatrics, it was discovered that a series of questions asked to expecting parents could determine if a child would be violent, suffer from learning disabilities, chronic disease, and even mental illnesses.

The Children’s Clinic study measured 10 types of childhood adversity: sexual, physical and verbal abuse, and physical and emotional neglect, according to the Huffington Post.

A series of questions were formulated which lead to a discovery that may change the pediatrics industry— 64 percent of study participants had experienced at least one form of adversity. This discovery has been coined, ACE, Adverse Childhood Experience. The study surfaced in 1995 and has gained momentum in awareness over the last few year.

ACE in South Dallas-Fair Park

It’s in under-resourced areas like South Dallas/Fair Park (SD/FP) — that’s suffering from low life expectancies, chronic cancer and diabetes, and sexually transmitted disease—where ACE is most prevalent. Research has shown that these life outcomes are correlated with experiences of abuse, neglect, and family dysfunction during childhood.

Out of this calamity a collective impact effort was formed in SD/FP area and the Working In Neighborhoods Strategically (WINS) initiative was born. Emerging in 2013 —with support of Mayor Mike Rawlings and Grow South—the goal of WINS is to create a resource connection for SD/FP children and their families to minimize ongoing exposure to adverse childhood experiences (ACE).

Effects of ACE on Youth in SD/FP

In many under-resourced areas in America minorities face a bevy of chronic obstacles that the socioeconomically advantaged cop with far less often: environmental pollutions, high crime, poor health care, overt racism, and concentrated poverty, say Harvard School of Public Heaths’ Research Professor Arline Geronimus. The many psychological and physiological reactions to stressors experienced by residents in under-resourced communities is the primary cause of such alarming statistics with youth in SD/FP:

  • The rate of infants in South Dallas born to teen mothers has exceeded neighboring communities by 106%.
  • The state ranks last in the nation for citizens age 25 and older who have a high school diploma or GED.
  • SD/FP significantly out pace surrounding areas in sexually transmitted infections (STI) —Syphilis, Chlamydia, and Gonorrhea—from 150% up towards 550%.
  • 3% of children in Dallas County, more than 190,000 children total, live in

Families below the federal income poverty level.


WINS Strategy to Combat ACEs

Through WINS, families of SD/FP will have the opportunity to build the skills necessary to help mitigate outcomes that perpetuate social stressors and ACEs.

The WINS strategy is designed to train the appropriate professionals to identify instances of abuse, neglect, and house hold dysfunction (ACE). Also, WINS will provide access with quality resources that have been screened and rated for its effectiveness.

To evaluate the effectiveness of WINS, within SD/FP, outcome indicators are positioned as bench marker for: (1) Rate of school absenteeism; (2) Number of detentions and suspensions; (3) Teen pregnancy an STI rates; (4) Number of new programs/interventions brought to SD/FP.

It’s expected that implementation of WINS strategy will reduce the impact of ACEs already experienced by students and reduce the instance of future ACEs will better position students for success. The first tool for the implementation of this strategy, will be a partnership with the Education Workgroup to establish a Family University at a local Early Head Start Center in South Dallas / Fair Park. This program will provide parents with information, resources and support needed to obtain living wage jobs and provide a safe and healthy environment for their children during the critical 0-5 stage and beyond. Our ultimate goal is to help our families escape poverty, but we also want to ensure buffers exist to help kids in our community grow up healthy despite the economic circumstances of their families. To learn more visit

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