Free screenings of two award-winning documentaries mark the launch of a new initiative.
Five organizations — Hubbard in Prevention, Park Rapids School District, Kinship of Park Rapids Area and CHI St. Joseph Health's violence prevention and FATHER Project — are collaborating to help Park Rapids become a "trauma-informed community."
"Paper Tigers" and its sequel "Resilience" feature Walla Walla, Wash., the community that spearheaded the nationwide movement. Both documentaries are by filmmaker James Redford.
What is a trauma-informed community?
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are potentially traumatic events that can have a negative, lasting effect on health and well-being.
ACES impact everyone.
Being trauma-informed is "a mindset to not only address, but also understand people's behavior," Partlow explained.
Instead of asking someone "What's wrong with you?," you might ask "What happened to you?"
A trauma-informed community also asks "What can we do now to make it better?" said Rosy Hermstead, executive director of Kinship.
Lisa Coborn at the Park Rapids Alternative Learning Center says, "The reason I became involved with the ACEs initiative is because every year I have noticed how much more this is affecting my students. We must find ways to address the pain our students are experiencing and then help them become resilient so they can go on to live happier, more productive lives — and so they can avoid some of the serious health effects such as stroke, diabetes, cancer which have been proven to come with prolonged stress."
ACEs affect all socio-economic parts of the community.
"The education has to come first. It's an ongoing process. Also, every agency is going to have to figure out how they're going to use in the bank, for instance," Coborn said.
Film screenings are first step
"When you think of a documentary, you may think of something that's not engaging. These are very real. They are very raw," said Kristen Partlow, a violence prevention coordinator at CHI St. Joseph's Community Health. "It is real people with real issues. They draw you in. It's quite emotional, but it reaches your heart. They're compelling. You can relate to them."
Organizers urge parental discretion due to the raw, mature nature of the PG-13 documentaries.
"Paper Tigers" follows teens who attend Lincoln Alternative High School in Walla Walla, Wash. Lincoln was the first high school in the country to integrate trauma-informed and resilience-building practices.
"Paper Tigers" captures the pain, the danger, the beauty, and the hopes of the teens — and the teachers, administrators, health professionals and counselors armed with new science and fresh approaches that are changing their lives for the better.
As staff build stronger relationships with the struggling students, the school becomes an example of how a single, caring adult can break the cycle of adversity in a young person's life. The film offers a compelling example of how caring connections can improve the well-being of youth, adults and the overall community.
"The kids in there, to me, was the most powerful aspect. It's not sugar-coated in any way," said FATHER Project manager Joe Johnson.
"Resilience" is an look at how childhood trauma impacts all aspects of our lives and all systems — education, health, work, relationships, etc.
The film explores into the developments of medical studies where conditions like heart disease can be linked to childhood experiences.
Organizers say it's a great start to a conversation about how Park Rapids, as a community, can work together to address these issues.
"A trauma-informed community lead to resilience among the population. Resilience is the ability to cope in a more positive manner," said Partlow.
There'll be a facilitated discussion after each screening for those who wish to participate.
Two documentaries and a facilitated discussion will be held throughout March.
Thursday, March 1 - "Paper Tigers," Calvary Lutheran Church, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Friday, March 2 - "Resilience," Park Rapids Public Library, 10 a.m. to noon
Tuesday, March 6 - "Paper Tigers," Park Rapids Public Library, 1-3:30 p.m.
Wednesday, March 7 - "Resilience," Park Rapids Public Library, 1-3 p.m.
Sunday, March 11 - "Paper Tigers," Park Theatre 3-5 p.m.
Wednesday, March 14 - "Paper Tigers," Park Theater, 6-8:30 p.m.
Thursday, March 15 - "Resilience," Park Theater, 6-8 p.m.<