If trauma has a face, let’s leave a legacy!

Roberto D. RiveraRecently, I had the honor of being able to share with Kiwanians from throughout the Carolinas about the devastating impact of childhood trauma. To make it personal for them, I gave trauma a face and a name, Roberto D. Rivera.  His story echoes so many of the young people we serve, experiencing overwhelming trauma and yet showing such promising resilience.  He and his sister came to us from situations that he described as “not always safe” looking for a place to be safe. 

The gold standard for measuring the impact of childhood trauma is the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACES) originally studied and created by the CDC and Kaiser Permanente. 

Click here for more information about ACES.

The results of the study have far reaching implications and have dramatically impacted the way that care is provided to our most vulnerable asset, our children. Those with ACES score of 4 or higher are at an increased risk of suicide, heart problems, cancer, and even early death.

What matters just as much as a person’s ACES score is their ability to be resilient – to bounce back or persevere in spite of adversity.  Roberto had an incredibly high ACES score, but his potential for resiliency was also high.  While with us, he was able to graduate, get and maintain a job, purchase a car, and begin a new program of study in an area he was passionate about – welding.  After he left us, he completed his welding certification at the local community college and obtained a job with that new certification.

Tragically, the results of the ACES Study are more true than we will ever realize.  Roberto lost his life prior to being able to begin that new job as a welder.  Let’s not let his death be in vain, let’s leave a legacy!

We have started a scholarship in honor of Roberto that will yearly assist a graduate of Thomas Academy who is looking to obtain post high school education in a trade or technical career path.  We need $26,000 to fully fund this scholarship with the ability to award it in June of 2020. 

Make a donation to the Roberto Scholarship Fund.

Rev. John Cobb is the Continuous Quality Improvement Risk Manager and Sanctuary Coordinator for Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina.

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