Screening of ‘Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope’ documentary held at MTSU

Photo by Bailey Wilson / Contributing Writer 

Story by Bailey Wilson / Contributing Writer and Savannah Meade / Contributing Writer

MTSU and Murfreesboro City Schools teamed up with Prevent Child Abuse Tennessee to screen the documentary “Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope” in the Ned McWherter Learning Resource Center Thursday evening.

The film centers around the Adverse Childhood Experiences study. The study was conducted by two doctors in the ‘90s after they made a connection between weight loss patients regaining weight and childhood sexual abuse. 

What the doctors found was that when an individual had a higher amount of adverse childhood experiences, they also suffered from a higher number of health issues. From alcoholism to heart disease, the link was unheard of at the time. The study came up with 10 ACEs that would decide an ACE score that can be used to infer how susceptible an individual is to health risks.

The documentary then shifts focus to a pediatrician in San Francisco who was attempting to find a way for the ACE study to help kids in more dangerous areas. The main way to help children escape the likely effects of ACEs is for parents to adapt to the children’s needs. The film shows a support group for mothers that attempts to assist in making changes by using information from the ACE study.

The documentary ends by explaining how the ACE study will continue on a more national scale. The use of the information in medical fields and awarding ACE grants to schools has already yielded a decrease in domestic violence, drug use and other public health and safety risks.

“Right now, we are conducting small groups,” said Mia Zellars, a Murfreesboro City Schools ACE counselor, at the event. “We have a grant (that allows us to) put children who have some type of childhood trauma or adverse childhood experiences (into small groups).”

MTSU has received an ACE grant and, according to MTSU Director of Early Learning Programs Connie Casha, the university is using the grant to train students who wish to eventually teach by using information from the ACE study. So, students today can be equipped to be the change in a child’s life in the future.

“I think (the film) gives teachers a different perspective to think about (how) children don’t all come from the same place and the same experiences,” Casha said. “School should be the safe place.”

Students who want to know their ACE score can take the test here.

To contact News Editor Andrew Wigdor, email

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