Park Rapids Hosts 1st Ever Community ACEs Summit
Park Rapids wanted to be a more healing community. That’s part of the reason they decided to host a daylong ACEs Summit. ACE stands for “Adverse Childhood Experience,” and the summit is meant to help everyone understand the effects of trauma.
“When we have a common language of understanding what ACEs is all about, then we can all make the difference going forward. So that’s the first step, to get everyone together and build awareness,” says Rosy Hjerstad, Executive Director of Kinship Park Rapids.
Presenters were brought in from all over the country. Community leaders from all different fields also hosted workshops. They included the school system, law enforcement, the medical community and more.
“My sessions this morning were based on being a hope dealer. So it’s kind of a tongue-in-cheek term – you know, a hope dealer. Kids are like, ‘what does that mean?’ and I talked to them about how in my life, I found transformation in dealing hope to individuals,” says Joe Johnson, The Father Project Coordinator for Hubbard County.
Pastor Justin Fenger, with Calvary Lutheran Church adds, “I always see my role as a constant cheerleader. One that continues to push, hopefully pull, dragging people into community service, community action.
The ACEs Summit was literally a whole day event. The morning started with various activities and workshops in high school and elementary school. Then the whole community was invited to participate in the afternoon.
“I hope that they grasp the concept that this is not a change necessarily in curricula or procedures and policies. It’s more of a shift in a mindset. It’s more of an understanding and a shift in who we are,” says Kristin Partlow, Violence Prevention Coordinator for Community Health.
Professionals who have worked on ACEs programs before say it’s pretty typical to see school communities getting involved, but what’s happening in Park Rapids is something to be admired.
The keynote speaker for the ACEs Summit, Jim Sporleder, says, “I think there’s just some cutting edge things here because it’s not just a school thing ,but it’s a whole tremendous community approach and that’s the strongest approach there is, is when the community comes together around trauma.”
The ACES Summit committee is looking into bringing the event back for possibly Fall of 2020.