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Bounce: Building resilient children, families

From the Courier-Journal, June 20,2015: http://www.courier-journal.com/story/opinion/contributors/2015/06/20/bounce-building-resilient-children-families/29032853/

During the past 20 years, research has shown childhood trauma such as abuse, neglect, and dysfunction directly correlates to long-lasting effects on both physical and mental health. Adverse childhood experiences (or ACEs) can lead to obesity, alcoholism, drug use, diabetes, suicide, and many more deadly outcomes if they go unnoticed and unattended. The more ACEs one experiences before the age of 18, the higher risk of lasting poor health outcomes. This is why a program like Bounce is crucial.

Bounce is a bold endeavor designed to help youth respond effectively to adversity by building resiliency and grit. It is made possible by Investing in Kentucky’s Future, an initiative of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky to address the state’s unmet health care needs.

The Bounce Coalition, comprised of leaders from 16 collaborating organizations, is committed to planning and implementing evidence-based initiatives that promote child well-being, impact local systems and policies to reduce risks for chronic diseases, and help youth practice healthy behaviors for a lifetime.

Bounce springs from an extensive study conducted by the coalition in 2013-14 that compared neighborhoods of Jefferson County in areas of safety, substance abuse, physical and mental health, and nutrition to identify the places of greatest need. This work was overlaid with JCPS data on the prevalence of ACE indicators in elementary schools in neighborhoods of greatest concern. Using this information, as well as an assessment of each school’s readiness to adopt the resiliency program, an elementary school in South Louisville was selected as the first Bounce site.

The Bounce activities implemented during the just-completed school year included staff training to recognize and respond to symptoms of trauma, programs for parents on ACEs and building resilience, conducting small, in-classroom sessions that increase support for students, and providing referrals for students that need intervention. In addition, ACEs training was provided to more than 475 YMCA staff to build the knowledge and skills of those who work with children outside of school.

Bounce began in the fall of 2014 and is already showing promising results. The number of school staff who described their ability to effectively support students experiencing trauma improved from 30% to 53%. The number of students with high-intensity behavior referrals fell and of the students with referrals, the percent with 10 or more referrals decreased from 26% to 21%. The program appears to effectively identify students in need, as 100% of students with 10 or more referrals were identified for therapeutic treatment.

The vision of JCPS is that “all students graduate prepared to reach their full potential and contribute to our society throughout life.” To fulfill this mission, the district has made significant investments in resources to decrease suspension and increase school-based mental health services.

Bounce backs these goals by creating the foundation for a replicable and easily implemented program that identifies and supports children who have experienced trauma. Because of its “train-the-trainer” component, Bounce creates a simple, successful, and ongoing program that can continue to help children both in classrooms and out-of-school settings.

Organizations participating in Bounce:

  • Center for Women & Families
  • Community Foundation of Louisville
  • Family & Children’s Place
  • Jefferson County Public Schools
  • KentuckyOne Health
  • Kentucky Youth Advocates
  • Louisville Metro Department of Community Services
  • Louisville Metro Department of Public Health & Wellness
  • Metro United Way
  • Norton Healthcare
  • Mayor’s Office
  • Louisville Metro Council
  • Seven Counties Services
  • University of Louisville Department of Public Health & Information Sciences
  • University of Louisville Raymond A. Kent School of Social Work
  • YMCA of Greater Louisville

Bounce co-chairs are Anthony Zipple, CEO of Seven Counties Services, and Alice Bridges, vice president, healthy communities, at KentuckyOne Health.

 

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