Specialists Learn the Power of Human Connections at Summer Summit

We Are The Medicine


Did you know that nearly half of American children ages 0-17 are exposed to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) that can severely harm their future health and well-being? According to a CDC ACE Study cited by the National Institute for Children’s Health Quality (NICHQ), exposure to six or more ACEs can lower an individual’s life expectancy by nearly 20 years. ACEs fall under the category of early childhood trauma and include stressful or traumatic events stemming from abuse, neglect, household dysfunction and toxic stress.


Kathy Hart, MA, Director of Professional Training & Coaching at the STARR Commonwealth is a Senior Trainer that travels throughout North America providing trauma and resilience training to organizations and schools. Youth Solutions was thrilled to have Hart join us again at this year's Summer Summit Professional Development Conference to continue the learning around childhood stress, trauma and resilience. The focus of her workshop was healing trauma and building resilience through human connection.


Hart strongly believes that “we are the medicine.” She says that we can help young people through these stressful times through the power of human connections. Make no mistake, this is not just “new-age” thinking. There is scientific evidence proving that experiencing positive connections can actually alter our brain’s chemistry. “When we educate more trauma-informed and resilience-focused professionals in this manner, we foster the possibility of wellbeing by restoring and nurturing resilience despite other life adversities,” said Hart.


Hart uses the terms stress and trauma interchangeably. The weight of the word trauma may be a little heavy to acknowledge, but most people can relate to stress. Both stress and trauma have the same effect on our “Circle Of Courage,” the philosophical foundation for Starr’s resilience-focused approach to working with children, families, and communities.


The Circle of Courage® is a model of positive youth development based on the universal principle that to be emotionally healthy all youth need a sense of belonging, mastery, independence and generosity. When there is stress and trauma, the circle is broken. When that happens, we must work to restore and nurture these universal needs.


Creating human connections is the answer to restoring the strength within the circle. The single most common factor for young people who develop resilience is at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive parent, caregiver, or other adult. We have seen the impact our Specialists have made on the lives of the youth they encounter through our programs. We know they have the ability and capacity to change these young people’s lives, inspiring and connecting them to a future they might not have imagined on their own. With the start of the new program year, the JMG Specialists are armed with new resources and tools to support the development of the Circle of Courage with their youth.


If you are interested in learning more about Trauma Informed Care or Resilience, please connect with the STARR Commonwealth.


If you’d like to learn more about our programs or discuss ways to support Michigan’s Youth, please contact Youth Solutions.