Addiction Services staff withAlberta Health Services has developeda campaign that reminds adults of theimportance of giving children someoneto lean on.
Simple Connections, Stronger Kids isa series of public service announcementsthat launches this fall in SouthernAlberta. The campaign was inspired byan Alberta Family Wellness Initiative(AFWI) symposium on early childhooddevelopment.
The staff members put the campaigntogether after learning about adversechildhood experiences (ACEs). WhenACEs outweigh children’s positiveexperiences, they can damage brainarchitecture, leaving them at higherrisk of attempted suicide, drug use andunwanted pregnancy. Later in life, thesechildren are more prone to developmental health issues such as depressionand addiction. A child’s response toan ACE is often affected by adult care,support and attention.
“Simple things are a big deal to
kids,” Thomas Mountain, an Addiction
Services manager in the South Zone,
says. “The more we spend time with and
acknowledge youth, the more resilient
they are to addressing difficult times in
Being there when a child needs you,
or just saying hello to a child, goes a
long way. This could mean eating lunch
with a child, asking how her day at
school was or listening to her problems.
Studies from the Center on theDeveloping Child at Harvard Universityhave shown that children can bettercope with ACEs when a parent or adultcaregiver is there to help. This meansthat by creating a strong bond with achild, an adult can help them handletheir stress in a healthy way.
Mountain and his team are working
alongside staff with the Addiction
Prevention Program on the campaign,
and believe their work is an important
step towards helping kids be healthier.
“There are all sorts of things we do
naturally for physical protection,”
Mountain says. “By being important to
a kid in your life, you can help him face
the challenges or the risks he will have
in his life as well.”
Mountain hopes that the
advertisements his team have created
will catch on across the province.
The ads will air on TV and radiostations across Southern Alberta,including in Medicine Hat, Taber andLethbridge.