“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.”

                                    -Anne Lamott

About ACES

Nearly two thirds of Americans have been exposed. It can interrupt early brain development. It can lead to social, emotional and cognitive impairment, drug and alcohol abuse, and high-risk behavior. It is responsible for disease, disability, and major social problems.

 

The exposure is Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES), aka Early Childhood Trauma, what Dr. Robert Block, former President of the American Academy of Pediatrics, called “the single greatest unaddressed public health threat facing our nation today."

 

The effects are staggering. The human toll of those with severe ACES results in markedly high rates of cancer, heart disease, mental illness, poverty, homelessness, suicide, and early death.

 

The economic toll is just as alarming. The estimated lifetime economic burden resulting in new cases from Adverse Childhood Experiences is approximately $141 billion,  rivaling strokes, Type 2 diabetes, and other high-profile public health problems.

 

So, what is early childhood trauma? What are its causes? How does it play out in daily life? How does it relate to disease, mental illness, poverty, and homelessness? And why aren’t policy makers discussing what arguably is the single greatest public health crisis today? Born With A Chance explores these questions and more.

 

Through the lens of homeless youth and the social professionals who work with and serve them, we see firsthand how devastating the effects of ACES are on homeless youth, and the daunting barriers and challenges they face every day.

 

Through mental health professionals, social scientists, and cognitive psychologists, we learn the links between ACES and mental and physical illness, drug addiction, poverty and homelessness.

 

And lastly, Born With a Chance examines dominant societal views and misconceptions about mental illness, poverty and homeless, the perennial economic policies that help shape this issue, and proven solutions to help the most vulnerable among us find productive and meaningful lives.

 

The principal location takes place at the Volunteers of America Youth Resource Center (YRC) in Salt Lake City.

 

The Filmmaker

David Cummins is a veteran of the Lost Angeles film and television industry. In October of 2015, David made Salt Lake City his home, and became an AmeriCorps volunteer serving two years at the Volunteers of America, Youth Resource Center. Within months of his first-year service, David realized too many in the public sphere have numerous and harmful misconceptions about homeless people, especially homeless youth. Furthermore, upon learning about ACES and its effects, and shocked there wasn’t anybody talking about this issue, David set out to make a film series to probe deeply into this largely unrecognized crisis.

 

In the summer of 2016, David began developing this project with the goal of shining a bright light on the dark and complex realities of this issue, dispel stereotypes, de-stigmatize the label of homelessness, and build a greater awareness of the most vulnerable among us. The goal is to inspire a debate that will lead to sound public policies to address ACES.

 

David is now a Case Manager at the Youth Resource Center. His frontline experience working with and serving street-dependent youth delivers an informed, insightful, and unique perspective on this complex, vexing and difficult issue.

 

Be part of the conversation. Learn more>>

 

Why a Film Series?

Public perceptions of homeless people are often mischaracterized by inaccurate beliefs and stereotypical viewpoints; e.g. homeless people are so because they are lazy, alcoholics, or drug users. However, in most instances, the causes of homelessness are rooted in ACES and early child development.  According to Lloyd Pendleton, Director of Utah's Homeless Initiatives, 90 percent of chronically homeless people grew up disadvantaged from the start, in abusive or underprivileged homes.

 

With homeless and runaway youth, physical or sexual abuse at home is commonplace. According to a YouthCare study of a homeless youth sample, 33 percent had been in foster care, 51 percent had been physically abused, and 60 percent of girls and 23 percent of boys had been sexually abused. In some studies, the prevalence of sexual abuse ranges from 21 percent to 70 percent.  In November 2002, the Department of Health and Human Services reported that between 21 percent and 40 percent of runaway youth had been sexually abused, compared to between 1 percent and 3 percent of the general youth population.

 

Mental illness is also a major contributing factor. Two thirds of the youth in a sample conducted by YouthCare had diagnosable mental health issues including Disruptive Behavior Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder, Depressive Disorder, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Youth living on their own are at a higher risk for anxiety disorders, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), suicide attempts, and other health problems due to the enhanced exposure to violence. Abuse and trauma are further compounded by survival sex and other victimization. For example, more than one third of homeless youth engage in survival sex. 162,000 homeless youth are estimated to be victims of commercial sexual exploitation in the United States.

 

These are the harsh realities of Adverse Childhood Experiences, but these statistics are just numbers, faceless and easily forgotten. Born With a Chance puts a human face on this crisis by giving voice to the voiceless.

 

The myriad layers that encompass this complex, vexing issue are too numerous for any single film to adequately address. Hence, the need for a multi-film series. Producing 30-minute, short documentary films enables more in-depth coverage on the various aspects of ACES while creating educational and conversational opportunities around each film.

The overall goal of this project is to educate and inspire sound public policies to address this issue.

Born With a Chance
Born With a Chance

Please Contribute to the production fund

Born With a Chance

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.”

                                                         -Anne Lamott

About ACES

Nearly two thirds of Americans have been exposed. It can interrupt early brain development. It can lead to social, emotional and cognitive impairment, drug and alcohol abuse, and high-risk behavior. It is responsible for disease, disability, and major social problems.

 

The exposure is Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES), aka Early Childhood Trauma, what Dr. Robert Block, former President of the American Academy of Pediatrics, called “the single greatest unaddressed public health threat facing our nation today."

 

The effects are staggering. The human toll of those with severe ACES results in markedly high rates of cancer, heart disease, mental illness, poverty, homelessness, suicide, and early death.

 

The economic toll is just as alarming. The estimated lifetime economic burden resulting in new cases from Adverse Childhood Experiences is approximately $141 billion,  rivaling strokes, Type 2 diabetes, and other high-profile public health problems.

 

So, what is early childhood trauma? What are its causes? How does it play out in daily life? How does it relate to disease, mental illness, poverty, and homelessness? And why aren’t policy makers discussing what arguably is the single greatest public health crisis today? Born With A Chance explores these questions and more.

 

Through the lens of homeless youth and the social professionals who work with and serve them, we see firsthand how devastating the effects of ACES are on homeless youth, and the daunting barriers and challenges they face every day.

 

Through mental health professionals, social scientists, and cognitive psychologists, we learn the links between ACES and mental and physical illness, drug addiction, poverty and homelessness.

 

And lastly, Born With a Chance examines dominant societal views and misconceptions about mental illness, poverty and homeless, the perennial economic policies that help shape this issue, and proven solutions to help the most vulnerable among us find productive and meaningful lives.

 

The principal location takes place at the Volunteers of America Youth Resource Center (YRC) in Salt Lake City.

 

The Filmmaker

David Cummins is a veteran of the Lost Angeles film and television industry. In October of 2015, David made Salt Lake City his home, and became an AmeriCorps volunteer serving two years at the Volunteers of America, Youth Resource Center. Within months of his first-year service, David realized too many in the public sphere have numerous and harmful misconceptions about homeless people, especially homeless youth. Furthermore, upon learning about ACES and its effects, and shocked there wasn’t anybody talking about this issue, David set out to make a film series to probe deeply into this largely unrecognized crisis.

 

In the summer of 2016, David began developing this project with the goal of shining a bright light on the dark and complex realities of this issue, dispel stereotypes, de-stigmatize the label of homelessness, and build a greater awareness of the most vulnerable among us. The goal is to inspire a debate that will lead to sound public policies to address ACES.

 

David is now a Case Manager at the Youth Resource Center. His frontline experience working with and serving street-dependent youth delivers an informed, insightful, and unique perspective on this complex, vexing and difficult issue.

 

Be part of the conversation. Learn more>>

 

Why a Film Series?

Public perceptions of homeless people are often mischaracterized by inaccurate beliefs and stereotypical viewpoints; e.g. homeless people are so because they are lazy, alcoholics, or drug users. However, in most instances, the causes of homelessness are rooted in ACES and early child development.  According to Lloyd Pendleton, Director of Utah's Homeless Initiatives, 90 percent of chronically homeless people grew up disadvantaged from the start, in abusive or underprivileged homes.

 

With homeless and runaway youth, physical or sexual abuse at home is commonplace. According to a YouthCare study of a homeless youth sample, 33 percent had been in foster care, 51 percent had been physically abused, and 60 percent of girls and 23 percent of boys had been sexually abused. In some studies, the prevalence of sexual abuse ranges from 21 percent to 70 percent.  In November 2002, the Department of Health and Human Services reported that between 21 percent and 40 percent of runaway youth had been sexually abused, compared to between 1 percent and 3 percent of the general youth population.

 

Mental illness is also a major contributing factor. Two thirds of the youth in a sample conducted by YouthCare had diagnosable mental health issues including Disruptive Behavior Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder, Depressive Disorder, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Youth living on their own are at a higher risk for anxiety disorders, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), suicide attempts, and other health problems due to the enhanced exposure to violence. Abuse and trauma are further compounded by survival sex and other victimization. For example, more than one third of homeless youth engage in survival sex. 162,000 homeless youth are estimated to be victims of commercial sexual exploitation in the United States.

 

These are the harsh realities of Adverse Childhood Experiences, but these statistics are just numbers, faceless and easily forgotten. Born With a Chance puts a human face on this crisis by giving voice to the voiceless.

 

The myriad layers that encompass this complex, vexing issue are too numerous for any single film to adequately address. Hence, the need for a multi-film series. Producing 30-minute, short documentary films enables more in-depth coverage on the various aspects of ACES while creating educational and conversational opportunities around each film.

The overall goal of this project is to educate and inspire sound public policies to address this issue.

Born With a Chance

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.”

                                   -Anne Lamott

Born With a Chance

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.”

                               -Anne Lamott

Please Contribute to the production fund

Born With a Chance