Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child is home to some of the leading experts on childhood adversity.
And on Tuesday, members of the center will lead a summit in Frederick to help health care professionals, officials and Frederick County residents learn more about adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and resilience.
The Frederick County Interagency Early Childhood Committee and the ACEs work group will host “We Design: Applying 21st Century Science to Improve Outcomes for Children” from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday at The Arc at Market Street. The summit is funded by the Maryland State Department of Education and United Way of Frederick County.
“It’s going to be a highly interactive session with the Harvard Center on the Developing Child,” said Pilar Olivo, Frederick County ACEs liaison. Olivo is the wife of Geordie Wilson, publisher of The Frederick News-Post.
The summit will kick off with a brain architecture game, requiring participants to build a brain while learning about the brain development in the first eight years of life. It will help teach people how adversity affects brain structure, Olivo said.
Sometimes the information can be abstract, Olivo said, but the game should help make it easier to learn because it will be hands-on.
“It becomes very tangible, because brains are hard to build,” she said. “They are hard to build when there is childhood adversity.”
Toxic stress from adverse childhood experiences can have negative effects on a child, she said. Healthy brain development needs good relationships with adults and caregivers, be it a parent, a teacher or another influential adult.
The Harvard Center on the Developing Child teaches a trauma-informed approach to ACEs, which has already been adopted by many of those in Frederick County working on childhood adversity.
But the Harvard center also brings education on adding lessons on resilience for those who experienced childhood adversity, Olivo said.
She said she hopes that Tuesday’s event will help “knit together” and bring together parts of the community that may be working on childhood adversity in silos, she said.
One of the biggest groups that works with ACEs is the health care system because pediatricians and family physicians interact the most with young children and their families. They need to consider ACEs and talk, she said.
Registration for the We Design event closes Monday morning, Olivo said.