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Fighting childhood traumas with community partnerships

By Joe Zavala for the Mail Tribune

To illustrate the impact of what’s known as Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs, and the power of overcoming their impact, Peter Buckley tells the story of a young boy at Orchard Hill Elementary in Medford.

The child could not sit still for more than a few minutes at a time, nor could he remain silent for long stretches like most of his peers. As a result, the classroom interruptions were constant.

Then, the teacher tried something called the “good behavior game,” which teaches students to “flip on their internal focus switch” in order to “self-regulate during both learning and fun,” according to goodbehaviorgame.org.

By the end of the school year, says Buckley, the boy was able to sit through class all day.

“A remarkable change,” says Buckley, a longtime Ashland resident whose term as Oregon state representative ends in early January when Pam Marsh takes office. “And how did they do it? They had to meet him where he was.”

Buckley recently expounded on the subject before a group of people gathered at the Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Ashland for the Rogue Valley New Day Network’s monthly potluck breakfast, highlighting the benefits of an ACEs-based approach to education and other sectors that focus on children, such as mental health and corrections.

Now the program manager for Southern Oregon Success, a nonprofit organization that bills itself as “a collective impact effort embracing trauma-informed practices to improve outcomes for children, youth and their families,” Buckley aims to spread the word.

“Once people have this information to work with, they’re putting together these partnerships across sectors that I think are going to be very effective,” says Buckley, whose organization provides trauma-informed training sessions and events at no cost to schools, agencies, businesses and community groups.

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