At its core, Bridges of Hope was created to bridge gaps and connect people to resources; and the newly-launched Self-Healing Communities Project takes that work to the next level. It’s designed to improve health and social outcomes for people by reducing and ultimately preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences, or “ACEs.”
One of our aims is to increase the community’s understanding of ACEs and resilience. As of the beginning of November 2018, over 260 individuals in Crow Wing County have been surveyed about their knowledge of Adverse Childhood Experiences, with around 74% having never heard of them. We are also surveying residents about what they view as their neighborhood’s biggest strengths and challenges (see picture), and we will continue collecting this feedback to inform our work.
The Self-Healing Communities model is specific to each neighborhood, rather than a one-size-fits all approach. We have begun our work in the neighborhoods around Garfield and Lowell Elementary schools in northeast Brainerd, and we plan to expand to other neighborhoods and communities in the coming years. Importantly, this project is about capitalizing on the strengths of all community members, versus trying to reach a specific “tough population” of individuals. It is long-term, incremental, relational, person-by-person work; and it has the potential to transform the entire Lakes Area for the better in the years to come.
Though we are only about three months into this project as of November 2018, remarkable connections are already taking place. Here is one example:
Todd Sauer is the Principal of Lowell Elementary School in Brainerd. Before meeting with Bridges of Hope staff, Todd had not heard of Adverse Childhood Experiences. Upon learning more, Todd took steps to help his entire staff learn about ACEs, and he has since become an important partner in the Self-Healing Communities work.
Reflecting on his experience so far, Todd recently commented, “I feel like I’ve been living with blinders on for the past 20 years, because I have been solely focused on the academic and emotional needs of our students. It’s been so great to see the whole community coming together to not only help the children, but also to help their families become stronger too!”
Individuals like Todd inspire and encourage us. You, too, can become a partner in the Self-Healing Communities work:
- Invite our staff to present about Adverse Childhood Experiences and resilience to your church group, workplace, service club, book club, or elsewhere;
- Provide food or childcare for an upcoming Self-Healing Communities neighborhood meeting;
- Join us at Let’s Talk Solutions: A Community Conversation on Tuesday, November 27th from 5:30-8:00 pm at Lowell Elementary School (704 3rd Ave NE in Brainerd) for a whole-community discussion about this project; or
- Learn about the Self-Healing Communities Project in Crow Wing County.
- Simply call Amy or Tom (Project Coordinators) at 218.825.7682 to get involved!
Thank you for helping Bridges of Hope make a difference in our community. Our work is made possible through your support. To make a tax-deductible gift to further the work of Bridges of Hope, click here.