Emerging research reveals that communities experience trauma, or adverse experiences, just as individuals do. Symptoms of adverse community experiences manifest itself in a number of ways, including generational poverty among residents, fractured social networks and distrust, and a crumbling infrastructure with increased crime and violence. This month’s webinar introduced participants to the Town of Cicero, Illinois, a 2018 RWJF Culture of Health Prize recipient. Bordered on three sides by Chicago in Cook County, Cicero is no stranger to the symptoms of adverse community experiences.
But 10 years ago, residents said, “No More!” During this webinar, we met two community changemakers who have engaged residents, local government, multiple agencies, and nonprofits in transforming Cicero into the resilient community that it is today. Youth Trauma Counselor Jaclyn Wallen shared strategies to engage parents like her to transform Cicero public schools into welcoming, safe environments for their children. Further, Deputy Superintendent Vincent Acevez from the Cicero Police Department talked about his commitment to shifting how law enforcement approaches and interacts with the citizens they are sworn to protect.