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Aimee Zeitz, Regional Director of Strategic Advancement at the San Diego YMCA, joined the HOPE Innovation Network in January. She knew that if the YMCA wanted to serve children and families differently, they needed to support and engage staff and leadership differently. Aimee wanted to create a space that was person-centered, family-focused, strengths-based, and trauma-informed. She knew that childhood adversity is so common with the families they serve, within their organization, and throughout the county.

The Y already had trainings on Strengthening Families, trauma-informed care, and culturally responsive practices – HOPE became another piece of the puzzle. HOPE fit in with all the models her team was learning, and it answered the “why” of it all. Training on HOPE helped staff understand WHY it was so important to promote protective factors through Strengthening Families in a trauma-informed and culturally responsive way. These approaches help create Positive Childhood Experiences that help prevent long-term problems from ACEs. HOPE linked the other models together, using childhood experiences as a common thread.

Aimee also represents the YMCA in Partners for Prevention, a community-based child-abuse prevention project funded by the federal Children’s Bureau. With the California Office of the Surgeon General leading new work through ACEs Aware and as more ACEs screenings were happening in the community, partners worried about what to do next. It didn’t feel like it was enough to just screen for ACEs; they wanted to provide tangible support.

Now, Aimee and her team have added HOPE whenever they train community partners, including pediatricians and other healthcare workers, social service providers, Family Resource Center staff. Attendees learn how HOPE helps promote healing and resilience after ACEs. The training is customized to the needs of each group, with pediatricians requesting shorter, bite-sized trainings, and other groups requesting day-long learning and reflection sessions. She pulls in the Four Building Blocks as a unifying message across all the work. Soon, her team will join a HOPE Train the Facilitator program to expand their local capacity to spread HOPE.

Photo from YMCA San Diego

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