The Park Rapids Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Initiative has been named the local winner of the 2018 Touchstone Energy Community Award.

According to a Dec. 19 media release from Itasca-Mantrap Cooperative, the $500 check and engraved plaque is the co-op's choice for the award, recognizing organizations that make outstanding contributions to the local community.

Lisa Coborn with ACTION Park Rapids Area said the mission of the ACEs Initiative "is to build awareness of trauma, its effects and how to overcome adversity in our communities and for the future wellness of Minnesota."

ACEs, "such as abuse, neglect and household dysfunction affect us all," she said, noting that most people have at least one adverse childhood experience. "ACES are common, but they can make it difficult for families to thrive and interact in a healthy manner; they can make it difficult for children to be successful in school and relationships; they can make it difficult for employers to find and retain employees."

ACEs can also contribute to medical issues such as depression, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer, said Coborn. "The good news is that ACEs can be prevented as well as overcome. Awareness and education are the first steps."

The initiative seeks to link services with hospitals, clinics, mental health facilities, businesses, schools, law enforcement and social service agencies.

"When we wrap the members of our community in resilience building practices, move away from making judgments and meet people where they are, we can prevent and overcome ACEs," said Coborn.

An ACEs summit is planned in February at Park Rapids Area School, with the intent to bring community agencies together to hear experts from around the country talk about how trauma-informed practices affected the health of their communities.

The ACEs Initiative's award application will be submitted for consideration for the statewide Touchstone Energy Community Award, whose recipient will receive $1,000 at the annual meeting of the Minnesota Rural Electric Association in March in St. Paul. The award highlights the cooperative principle, "concern for community."