Biology of stress, science of hope: Community screening of ‘Resilience’ | Juneau Empire

There are many useful ways to spend an hour (and even more self-help articles devoted to the subject). You can get a haircut, clean out your email inbox, bake a casserole, exercise, meditate, organize your closet or catch up on “thank you” cards (you know you’ve got some).

But what if one hour was all it took to make a substantial difference in the lives of your community’s children?

That’s the aim of the 60-minute documentary “Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope,” which focuses on the implications of toxic stress stemming from adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs.

It also inspired a team of local nonprofits — including the Alaska Children’s Trust, the Association for the Education of Young Children-Southeast Alaska (AEYC-SEA), the United Way, the Juneau Suicide Prevention Coalition, thread, Juneau Youth Services, the Zach Gordon Youth Center, Juneau School District, and ROCK Juneau (Raising our Children with Kindness) — to offer a free community screening of “Resilience” this past January at Centennial Hall. More than 300 people attended the presentation, followed by a café discussion.

“We all got together and decided everyone in Juneau needed to see this film,” said Joy Lyon, Executive Director of AEYC-SEA. “It’s all about how we internalize stress, and the profound impact of childhood on the rest of a person’s life.”

Directed and produced by James Redford (yes, Robert’s son), along with Karen Pritzker and co-producer Dana Schwartz, “Resilience” chronicles the birth of the ACEs movement, a new way of thinking among pediatricians, therapists, educators and communities, who use cutting-edge neuroscience to disrupt cycles of violence, addiction and disease.

Once upon a time (i.e. the 1980s) ACEs theory was considered controversial … That is, until long-term research findings revealed one of the most important public health discoveries in decades: extremely stressful experiences during childhood (e.g. abuse and neglect) can alter brain development, with lifelong implications for future health and behavior.

Today, toxic stress is widely understood to be a leading cause of everything from diabetes and cancer to substance abuse and depression, as well as homelessness, domestic violence, incarceration and even early death. Indeed, too much ongoing stress triggers a cocktail of hormones that can wreak havoc on children at the cellular level, placing them at greater risk for all…

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