July 4, 2022

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A Project of Hope: A Step Towards an ACE Free Philippines

286194352_535564008237743_2793707346197409101_nOn June 4 2022, the UDRiVe Group of Coaches spearheaded the project, “Unang Hakbang Patungo sa A.C.E. Free Life: Adverse Childhood Experiences Awareness Project”. This event was made possible by the amazing team of coaches, volunteers, participants, and sponsors. With official sponsors Hungry Jada and ARD Talent Center, with co-sponsor San Marino Laboratories, and in cooperation with the Kiwanis Club of Batingaw, Cabuyao City, the event was successfully held in Egaland Resort in Laguna.

This project welcomed and enlightened people from all walks of life – parents, educators, and public service personnel, among many others. Everyone took part in the awareness raising of ACEs. First of all, have you ever wondered what Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are? These are potentially traumatic events that occur in childhood, from 0 to 17 years of age. Examples of ACEs are witnessing or experiencing violence or neglect. At once in your life, you may experience something similar.

Data shows that in the Philippines, abuse and neglect of children are rampant. The rate in which young Filipinos experience minor physical violence during childhood is four out of five, while for severe physical violence it is one out of four (Sarmiento and Rudolf, 2017).

With this relevant phenomenon, it is fitting to perceive UDRiVe’s ACEs awareness project as taking the first step in addressing this intergenerational issue which Filipinos overlook as they go on with life. Dear reader, you may do too.

Hence, this outreach program is a pioneer initiative; one of the many firsts in the discussion of mental health in the Philippines. Read on to learn more! What’s special about this event is that it was interactive. People owned their regulation, learning, and establishment of links.

This was achieved through various group dynamics sessions that engaged participants to build rapport with coaches, volunteers, and co-participants; it allowed them to realize that they were not alone with experiences of adversity or struggle. Individuals learned that each of us has battles to fight every now and then.

We sometimes struggle, and that is okay. We are never alone. Moreover, the feeling of empathy and solidarity was amplified when the event featured various testimonies from courageous people who experienced ACEs. These individuals shared their childhood journeys once at odds – experiences that were unspeakable yet the very catalyst for them to arrive in good places at present.

286276258_3214049402201094_1185746113670095171_nThe main takeaway was that traumatic events were never your fault. With self-awareness, paired with support and compassion from others, we can help ourselves and each other in the process of healing and growth. There is hope. Furthermore, group activities were supplemented by the rich discussions of ACEs by Coach Poy de Lara. Coach Poy said that to achieve a trauma-informed Philippines, we must delve deeper into the implications of ACEs to break the cycle.

With awareness and unlearning of maladaptive coping mechanisms, ACEs can stop with you. Yes, you read that right. He also empowered listeners to be helpers of children as they try to make sense of the world around them. He inspires us to be involved even with just one (1) child, as our active involvement can help change a life. It is safe to say that while the youth is the future of this nation, it is also upon us to help them shape their good future.

The future of the youth is in our hands, and this is a wake up call to be their voice. Have you also wondered how to perfectly hack parenting? The answer is there is no perfect way. Compassionate Discipline was discussed by Coach Sheena Valencia.

As children are still in the early stages of their development, their comprehension and understanding is still coming into being. Thus, Coach Sheena imparted to participants the importance of helping children navigate through the challenges and feelings that they face. It is up to elders to become aware and help empower children to self-regulate.

It is important to be with children in their pain, so when they feel unsafe, they will come to parents and elders for support. Coach Sheena says we cannot parent a child whose hearts we do not have. UDRiVe coaches also taught Tools for Hope by Eric Gentry to participants to help them cope in a healthy manner during stressful situations; and potentially impart this to parents and children.

The premise of this exercise was to foster a change in perspective of stress and triggers. Coaches empowered participants that every one of them was in charge of their self-regulation and wellness. Grounding techniques such as breathing exercises and perception meditation were shared with participants. After all, the body is the key to healing. Therefore, we should be intentional in connecting our body to our mind and heart. We always have a choice.

In essence, there is a need to address ACEs to mitigate its effects. With awareness, compassion, and active involvement, we can help save people from chronic health problems, mental health concerns, substance abuse problems, and a whole lot more. We need to safeguard the lifelong health of children and adults through understanding and preventing ACEs. Our ultimate mission is to break the cycle of abuse, neglect, and violence that continues to plague generations.

Hence, we call for the continuity of similar causes and achieve a trauma-informed people and nation.

It did not start with you, but it can stop with you.

For more information on how to get you or your institution ACE aware, contact the UDRiVe group of coaches through facebook.com/UDRiVehelps or through email udrivehelps@gmail.com.

The UDRiVe Group of Coaches is the pioneer in Trauma-informed training in the Philippines. Founded in 2022, by like minded people, all trauma survivors, and has a passion to be of service to others. These coaches are, Rowi V. Rizala, Arra Regina Diño, Sheena Valencia and Poy de Lara.

Together we can make these happen.

Contributor: Angela Francisco Photography: Al Angelo Vizcarra

REFERENCES:

Reyes, M. E. S., Davis, R. D., Buac, K. M. M., Dumaguing, L. I. B., Lapidez, E. D. L., Pangilinan, C. A., Sy, W. P., & Ubaldo, J. S. (2018). Link between adverse childhood experiences and five factor model traits among filipinos. IAFOR Journal of Psychology & the Behavioral Sciences, 4(2), 71–83. https://doi.org/10.22492/ijpbs.4.2.06