Staff members at Indian Lake Local Schools are receiving training to better understand the impact of childhood exposure to overwhelming stress and trauma.
WellSpring Executive Director Richele Shepard presented to staff members during a recent professional development session. WellSpring operates outpatient counseling centers in Springfield and Urbana.
Shepard detailed how to calculate one’s ACE, or Adverse Childhood Experience, score by counting the number of exposures to traumatic events such as becoming homeless, witnessing or experiencing domestic or sexual abuse, neglect and/or living with an addict/substance abuser.
Indian Lake Elementary School Co-Principal Jeff Reprogle remarked that even students in our small community are at risk, which is why administrators felt this type of training was essential.
“On a daily basis I deal with sometimes three or more of these types of serious situations affecting our students that fall into the ACE categories,” Reprogle explained.
In particular, Shepard detailed how substance abuse impacts an entire family.
“Children who are in a substance abuse home, even if they have the food and clothing that they need, experience neglect because you cannot be emotionally and physically present when you are in the throngs of addiction, “ she said. “It’s important to know that those kids come to school without that love and support they really need to be successful in their life.”
In an exercise, Shepard asked staff members to share a positive experience in their life. She then asked them to consider what it would feel like to not have any positive experiences to share.
“I want them to understand their own prejudices and how we often blame for behavior instead of empathize about the cause of those problems. So I’m hoping they walk away with the ability to stay empathetic, without becoming emotionally drained.”