Mayor Tom Watson and the Owensboro city commission proclaimed 2019 as “OBKY ACEs Awareness for Resilience and Empowerment Year.” The proclamation was in recognition of Rosemary Conder, Director of CASA, and various other organizations throughout the community who work as SPARKodc resilience leaders that impact children who live through adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).
ACEs awareness focuses on children who’ve witnessed or have been a victim of abuse or neglect, and those who have a parent living with someone who suffers from substance abuse, mental illness or is incarcerated. Children who grow up with economic insecurity, domestic or neighborhood violence or death of a parent or guardian are all harmful experiences that result in a child being raised in ACEs environments.
Kentucky ranks 43rd in the United States for children with ACEs scores of two or more, which are detrimental to their long-term health and well-being. As Conder explained, a high ACEs score doesn’t only impact a child’s behavior or mood, but their physical and physiological makeup as well.
“What is so impactful about learning about adverse childhood experiences is that now, scientists can prove more than it making you sad when these things happen, these actually change the physical and physiological DNA of children,” Conder said. “So we can do things to show the state and the world that we care about our kids, and we can make a difference.”
Conder said she sees the negative effects of children who suffer through ACEs and that the issue affects Owensboro and Daviess County residents more than they realize.
“As a director of CASA, I see the effect every day — child abuse, neglect, domestic violence — but we see it in our community with increased health risks and unemployment and lost wages, so it affects every citizen in Owensboro,” Conder said. “Not just people who deal with the heart issues, but people that actually care how their taxes are spent, how many people are in jail, our crime rate, they’re all connected.”
Conder will be traveling to Frankfort on Wednesday in support of Kentucky Youth Advocates Child Advocacy Day, and she said she’s excited to share her ACEs awareness proclamation with state legislators she will speak to about these issues.
“I think the more that people learn about adverse childhood experiences — that’s why we’ve come together with SPARKodc because we know we can show Kentucky how it’s done,” Conder said.