By Kimme Carlos

One thing to know about childhood trauma is that it’s common. And another is that it doesn’t go away. In fact, trauma — abuse, violence, poverty, neglect, divorce  — changes developing bodies and brains in ways that can affect generations.

But the most important thing to know about childhood trauma is that we can change those outcomes.

I know because I’ve lived it; and I know because I’ve helped others do it. 

Now, along with the City of Trenton and Trenton Health Team, I am eager to share the science of hope with our community at a free screening of the acclaimed documentary Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope, followed by a discussion with Dr. David Johnson, whose work is highlighted in the film.

Join us at 5 pm Wednesday October 2 at the War Memorial George Washington Ballroom.

The film, Resilience, chronicles the birth of a new movement among pediatricians, therapists, educators and communities, who are using cutting-edge brain science to disrupt cycles of violence, addiction and disease. 

In 2016, one in four children had experienced frequent economic hardship, and a similar proportion had experienced parental divorce or separation. About one in 10 had lived with someone with a substance abuse problem, 8 percent had a parent serve time in jail, and 8 percent had lived with someone who was mentally ill or suicidal, according to Child Trends. And children living in poverty are more likely to have experienced three or more adverse experiences. 

I spent almost 20 years in active alcoholism only to learn in recovery that my physical and emotional pain was a result of several childhood adverse experiences. The alcoholism was a way of numbing the pain and coping through the day. Now 17 years in recovery from alcoholism, and having learned how to manage my symptoms of depression and social anxiety, I am focused more than ever on sharing these life strategies with others. 

This is a difficult conversation to have given the history marginalized communities have endured. It is self-preservation that teaches us to never show weakness or vulnerability; don’t discuss depression, anxiety or fear. For this reason, I’m proud to partner with the City of Trenton and Trenton Health Team to host this event and open up this conversation. 

Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora and City of Health and Human Services Director Shakira Abdul-Ali are eager to make our city more healing-centered. THT, as a convener, brings a unique viewpoint to how different systems intersect, and where leverage points can begin to improve conditions in ways that reverberate. 

THT’s access to health data will enable the innovative solutions needed to grow community capacity and enable partners to work together. With the community, we will design new ways to build on our city’s assets and improve outcomes for those calling Trenton home. 

It is time to have these conversations out loud. It’s time to start building life-affirming prevention, intervention and recovery strategies for the most vulnerable in our communities. I am using my voice. Will you stand up and be a voice with me? Join us on October 2 at the War Memorial George Washington Ballroom. 

Kimme Carlos is founder and executive director of the Urban Mental Health Alliance.