BROOKINGS, SD – A coalition concerned with the health and safety of children is asking local entities and individuals to sign a pledge to help create a resilient community in Brookings County.

The coalition, made up of representatives from multiple sectors including healthcare, behavioral health, government, nonprofits, education and businesses, has worked for nearly two years to create South Dakota Resilient Communities: Brookings County. Brookings County is the first in the state to reach this designation. Social NET Works, a local grassroots advocacy group, has facilitated the process for Brookings County.

By signing the pledge anyone concerned about the safety of children can learn more about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and join existing efforts to create a safer, healthier and happier community for Brookings County children and families. ACEs include 10 different forms of childhood maltreatment (household dysfunction, abuse and neglect) that have been researched since 1992.

South Dakota children are facing child abuse and maltreatment at an alarming rate. Research shows that ACEs have a direct impact on an individual’s nervous system and brain development, which creates long-term mental and physical health issues as well as an increase in at-risk behavior. The good news is maltreatment is preventable. Understanding the impact of ACEs and factors that mitigate those effects can lessen the long-term harm the abuse causes.

“One in two individuals are impacted by childhood maltreatment and one in five individuals identify not having a supportive adult in their life,” said Nikki Eining, an outpatient therapist with Avera Behavioral Health, one of the groups involved with spearheading the resilient communities process. “Together we can work to create safe and self-healing communities to prevent childhood maltreatment from occurring and decrease these statistics.”

Local businesses, individuals and organizations were sent an email inviting them to take the “Resilient Community Motivators” pledge and commit to joining the local coalition. All who take the pledge will be recognized as part of the coalition that is committed to ongoing efforts to make resiliency sustainable in their community. For more information on the pledge process email [email protected] or [email protected].

SD Resilient Communities was created by the Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment at the University of South Dakota School of Health Sciences, along with its partner organizations, to help address factors that put children at risk for childhood maltreatment. It also creates an environment that is trauma informed so community members understand the effects of experiencing childhood maltreatment. The process identifies existing resources that can be used to strengthen prevention efforts.

“Helping the community come together to provide wraparound services and treatment to families who are experiencing crisis will benefit us all,” said Carrie Sanderson, Director of the Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment. “The strength of the community relies on how well we can come together to provide support and services through times of need.”