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Toxic stress documented in ‘Paper Tigers’ film, showing locally

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News from Lake County Public Health

Hopefully you have heard of the Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACE Study. Even better, you understand the implications of this landmark study, and have a new and better understanding of how toxic stress can affect young children, often compromising health outcomes throughout their lifetime. 

The ACE study was conducted in the 1990s, but it has only been in the recent decade that its implications are being closely examined. Organizations like Childwise Institute out of Helena have dedicated its mission to spreading the word about the ACE study, and a website search now brings up dozens of sites dedicated to providing information about the study. But it is hard to explain in a few sentences, or even paragraphs. And this information is vitally important. So how do we share this message so that people truly “get it?”

Documentary filmmaker James Redford has found a way. According to one reviewer, his film Paper Tigers “chronicles a year in the life of Lincoln High School in the community of Walla Walla, Washington. The kids who come to Lincoln have a history of truancy, behavioral problems and substance abuse. After Lincoln’s principal is exposed to research about the effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), he decides to radically change the school’s approach to discipline. With the aid of diary camera footage, the film follows six students. From getting into fights, grappling with traumatic events in their lives, and on the cusp of dropping out, they find healing, support and academic promise at Lincoln High.”

Paper Tigers will be screened twice, with no admission charge, thanks to a grant from the Children’s Trust Fund, and the combined efforts of the Flathead Reservation Human Rights Coalition, The Nest, Lake County Public Health, and Salish Kootenai College. OPI credits will be offered for both screenings.

The first screening will be at the Johnny Arlee/Victor Charlo Theater at Salish Kootenai College on Friday, April 15 at 11:30 a.m. Those who arrive early (around 11 a.m.) will receive a complimentary lunch provided by the SKC Psychology Department.

Paper Tigers will also be shown on Saturday, April 16 at 11 a.m. at the United Methodist Church, 70715 Hwy 93 (top of Post Creek Hill), followed by a panel discussion led by Teresa Nygard, director of The Parenting Place in Missoula. Light refreshments will be provided. 

Paper Tigers is designed to spark dialogue and offer hope to schools and youth struggling with dropout rates, truancy, violence, abuse and drug use. New School Professor of Psychology Dr. Howard Steele calls Paper Tigers “a remarkable film with an essential learning message for any teacher or parent who ever felt exacerbated by troublesome behavior shown by a student or child; aggression is a reaction to assaults on the self-esteem of the student/child — teacher and parents have much to learn about how to avoid to that burden carried by youth, and elicit the best from each student/child — and this film takes us far toward that ideal, but achievable goal.”


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