Last year more than 63 percent of adults in Utah reported having an adverse childhood experience or a traumatic event. Two students at Utah State University are trying to educate people in Utah on ways to help children cope with physical abuse or sexual assault.
“A lot of what we help people understand is that traumatic events actually rewire a child’s brain,” said Natalie Harrison, one of the founders of the Erase ACE initiative.
ACE stands for Adverse Childhood Experience.
"A child’s brain is developing so rapidly and they are making connections to everything and so when that child is living in traumatic event like that then they are always on guard,” Harrison said. “Their brain is working overtime to try and protect them and so they have a hard time using the frontal lobe, that logic part, to help calm them down and react normally to situations that we normally wouldn’t over react to.”
ACE co-founder Sarah Gasik said along with the initiative and training, the group hopes limit the number of childhood trauma assurances in Utah.
“We are trying to educate teachers with learning about what to look for so it won’t become an epidemic,” Gasik said.
After spending almost a month working on this project, Harrison is confident that it only takes one adult role model to change a child’s life.
“One person can make the difference for a child,” Harrison said. “If they have one caring adult in their life that understands where they are coming from and that cares about them they can be that buffer between the traumatic experiences they are having and just create some positivity in their life.”
More information about ACE training can be found at https://eraseace.wordpress.com/