In a landmark study in the 1990’s, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Kaiser Permanente Health Appraisal Clinic assessed the association of childhood maltreatment and later life health and well being. 17,000 adults were assessed an ACE score based on answers to 10 questions about the occurrence of abuse, neglect and household dysfunction during their childhood. The study found a clear association between exposure to ACE and high-risk health behaviors (including smoking, substance abuse and risky sexual behavior) and negative health outcomes (including obesity, depression, suicide, asthma, mental illness and up to 20 year lower life expectancy). The ACE results are consistently duplicated. In 2012, the Philadelphia Urban ACE Study corroborated the elevated risk of negative behavior and poor heath outcomes with high ACE scores in children from Southeastern PA.
Research at the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University documents the significance of a supportive relationship with a committed caregiver or adult in the community. These relationships buffer children from developmental disruption and help them build necessary adaptive competencies that enable them to respond to adversity and thrive. The combination of supportive relationships, adaptive skill-building, and positive experiences constitute the foundation of what is commonly called resilience. The bottom line - a comprehensive program that provides a compassionate mentor and an exciting program that builds self competencies in a safe and supported environment can help kids develop resiliency to mitigate the risks of early adverse experiences.
Barnstone Art for Kids created The Power of Art program, a yearlong, free-of-cost, unique integrative art program for children ages 4-12, suffering from adversity in Chester County, Pennsylvania. All children are paired with volunteer mentors who work one-on-one with the children, providing instructional art activities in a small and nurturing group setting. Mentors are community members - artists, parents, caregivers, health care professionals, educators and students. All are given background clearances and receive trauma informed training prior to participating in the program. The program improves life skills for children by:
• Teaching problem solving and coping skills
• Developing supportive relationships with peers & adults
• Granting permission and ability to learn from mistakes
• Developing competencies (academic, social, extracurricular)
• Expressing feelings appropriately
• Feeling physically and emotionally safe
• Offering time to relax and do recreational activities
 Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. (2015). Supportive Relationships and Active Skill-Building Strengthen the Foundations of Resilience: Working Paper 13.