The service project undertaken by two of the new member teams, the screening of the movie Resilience, The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope, was impressive on so many levels it’s hard to know where to start.

Let’s try by picturing a young kid huddled on the floor in a corner while his mom and her current boyfriend fight in the next room. They start pushing each other and he finally leaves the house slamming the door behind him.

The kind of anxiety this generates in a child has effects that can last a lifetime. There are other stressors, of course, including direct violence, sexual abuse and the absence of a nurturing adult in a child’s life.

The movie tells the story of how researchers in several fields started connecting the dots which led to a huge study and a testing instrument called the Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) Questionnaire that identifies childhood experiences of abuse and neglect with ten direct questions. Each “yes” is an “ACE” in their shorthand.

There is a good explanation of this on a website called Good Therapy.  The study posits that childhood trauma and stress early in life, apart from potentially impairing social, emotional, and cognitive development, indicates a higher risk of developing health problems in adulthood.

The study found that an individual with an ACE score of four or higher was 260% more likely to have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease than someone with a score of 0, 240% more likely to contract hepatitis, 460% more likely to experience depression, and 1,220% more likely to attempt suicide.

The movie was by turns alarming and hopeful but always interesting as the background of the study and the therapies being developed were revealed. The panel discussion afterwards brought it home to Durham, so to speak, and highlighted some of the agencies and organizations combining to take advantage of the knowledge.

The key new members involved in hosting the event were Bryan Piccirillo and Elisabeth Weiner. Another new member Rebecca Newton, who now runs the Carolina Theatre, made that facility available for the screening and participated in the panel. Other members of the teams include Michael Blacksburg, Murray Forbes, Bill Greeley, Steven Day, Kimberley Blair, Ashley Bachert, Sheryl Howell, Scott Warren, Melody Robinson, Eddie Blount, Nick Malinowski, Marcy Lowe, and Teri Canada.

An excellent panel discussion of Rotarians was led by Sharon Hirsch and included Rebecca Newton who besides being a musician and manager of the Carolina Theatre is on online child safety expert, County Commissioner Ellen Reckhow, Rachel Galanter of the Exchange Club Family Center and David Reese of the East Durham Children’s Initiative. The lone non-Rotarian was Leila Keen of the Center for Child and Family Health who came at the request of her colleague, Rotarian Kevin Spears.

The event was preceded by a “after hours” in the theatre’s ballroom.

With over 500 people attending, this program set the bar for future new member projects for impact and participation.  Congratulations to members of the team and the Membership Committee.


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