Christ Community Health Services in partnership with Universal Parenting Place and the Ace Foundation offer all Christ Community patients a place of emotional, physical and parental support with the UPP Center located at the Raleigh Health Center. 

The mission of ACE Awareness Foundation is to inform the community about the role of emotional trauma in mental, physical and behavioral health and seek innovative, replicative models that provide preventable and sustainable solutions to reducing toxic stress in family systems. Among the foundation’s initiatives supporting its mission is an entrepreneurial model called Universal Parenting Places (UPP).
The UPP sites are designed as a way to reduce the prevalence and mitigate the effects of adverse childhood experiences in our community. Each location provides a nurturing, embracing set of interactions for client families. Working from a universal, wellness-based, and family system perspective, the UPP sites engage family clients in a broad range of interactions, 

Each UPP site views its other activities and programs as a gateway to a deeper relationship with potential clients as well as an alternative vehicle for stress reduction and parenting skill building.  While individual therapeutic counseling may be the primary way to address ACEs for families. The UPP site teams develop more positive parenting methods and alternative stress reduction techniques through other programming are viewed as an integral part of their programming menu.  Each UPP site works to adapt group sessions for the constituencies and issues identified as needs for that site’s population.

Thus the ACE Awareness Foundation is pleased to offer the following menu of individual/family counseling sessions, therapeutic workshops (lead by a licensed therapist) and community workshops at no cost to participants through the Universal Parenting Places (UPPs) 

Individual and Family Therapy Sessions 

The environment at UPP sites is warm and welcoming to reinforce our goal of having judgement-free and comfortable spaces for parents and caregivers to meet one-on-one with a licensed therapist who is trained as a parent coach. The setting foster an atmosphere of congeniality and include comfortable seating as well as children’s toys and activities.  Each UPP site has a receptionist/hospitality coordinator at the front who will give child supervision (not child care) while the parent/caregiver is in a counseling session. The overall “Starbucks” atmosphere with an emphasis on being comfortable and accessible is apparent at every child-friendly UPP site.

Since UPP sites are grounded in a scientific model, each site has reporting requirements and has trained its staff to use the Salesforce system to track clients and activities.  This information about other programs through the Salesforce system is important in understanding what is working and what is not working, as the UPP site model continues to be refined. Maintaining confidential client records is mandatory. 

The UPP therapists see a myriad of familial circumstances for which parents and caregivers request private sessions.  By example, 

A new baby is on the way and parents are nervous

Conflicting philosophies around issues with a new baby including sleeping arrangements, vaccinations, “crying it out”, etc.

Parents have perceived a difference in their child’s behavior in contrast to other children and want clarification on what’s “normal”

The child’s temperament is in great contrast to that of the mother and she is feeling incompetent to know how to interpret or manage the child

Child is acting out or troubled at school is diagnosed with learning problems or ADD

Other behavioral issues that are causing problems at school or daycare for child

New sibling being added to the family

Teenager suddenly seems detached and sullen 

“Helicopter parents” are trying to detach from college bound student

Parents don’t agree on discipline due to their own differing family backgrounds

Other differences between parenting philosophies

Parents are separating, divorcing or fighting and want to minimize effects on their child/children

A recent second marriage brought concern to the couple about “blended families”

Conflict over different parenting approaches in blended families or between ex-spouses

Multi-generational families in one household with conflicting parenting styles

Parents coping with life stresses including work-related or lack of resources

Grandparents are worried about how parents are handling a given child

Grandmother is raising her family member’s children 

A dad wants to “re-enter” the family

A child has “special needs” – has been diagnosed with a developmental challenge and parents are concerned about how to best go forward/

Therapeutic Workshop Descriptions 

Discipline without Drama: Parents, would you like to learn to tame your toddler’s tantrums, reduce the tension between you and your tween, and cut the conflict with your teen? It’s not magic, it’s science! Using the latest brain based research about the connection between your child’s behavior and their developing brain, this workshop will share practical ways to interact with your child to nurture their growing brains while teaching emotional resilience, self-discipline and personal responsibility.  Parents, guardians and child caregivers will also benefit from the skills and techniques offered to enhance communication, improve relationships and decrease stress related to discipline. 
Approx. Time: 90 mins. 

Organizing & Parenting the Disorganized Child: Parenting, Child Development & Executive Functioning. Many parents wonder why their child or children wait until the last minute to complete homework, why they rarely plan ahead, why their clothes are on the floor, hanging out of dressers, or why they often get lost in the shuffle of papers or even in conversation, at times. The constant nagging and modeling of organizational skills doesn’t seem to help. How can I help and teach my child organizational skills without there being a tug-of-war? Well, here is a workshop that can help.  Come and learn about brain-development and role the frontal lobe plays in organizational skills and how to teach & help your child organize their work, play, and thoughts without blame, shame, or war. 

Approx. Time: 90 mins. 

Parenting While School is in Session: As your child is settling in to school, do you find yourself struggling? This workshop covers the important topics of parenting with limits, laughter, and love.  Subjects include scheduling, homework concerns, extracurricular activity planning and how to know when too much is too much. Also discussed is the importance of developing healthy friendships and how parents can support their child as they navigate relationships and conflict.  In that same vein, the workshop places great focus on the new struggles parents face as children are being raised in an online society, including discussion of internet addiction and how to help your child “unplug.” 

Approx. Time: 90 mins. 

The Impact of ACEs Throughout the Lifespan: An engaging adult educational workshop that aims to build community awareness around the impact of early toxic stress on child and adult health, which often leads to violence, aggression, addiction, depression, incarceration and chronic adult disease.  Decades of neuroscience and trauma research indicate that anyone may be affected by trauma, regardless of socioeconomic status, ethnicity, educational attainment and other factors. Participants will gain knowledge about the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) on family and community, understand the impact of toxic stress on neurodevelopment during early childhood, as well as explore the silent, long-term social and economic impact on the inter-generational population. Ways to reduce the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences and toxic stress will be explored.

Approx. Time: 2 hrs

Parenting With Postpartum: A six week postpartum depression support group series for mothers who are coping with the emotions of welcoming a baby is offered to help navigate this frequent situation at the onset of motherhood. The workshop is a safe and non-judgmental environment for women to explore their feelings and experiences related to childbirth. Topics covered include: the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression, physical changes that can come with pregnancy and childbirth, relationships and communication, changing roles, and support and planning for the future.  

Approx. Time: 90 mins. 

Community Workshop Descriptions

Family Drum Circle: The focus of this workshop will emphasize children and parents/caregivers participation with “families of drums” and other musical instruments by their engaging in experiential learning and cultural diversity. Participants will discover that rhythm helps move the brain from a super-high anxiety state, to a calmer cognitive state. Patterned, repetitive, rhythmic activity elicits a sensation of safety. Rhythm is regulating and reduces stress.  In order to engage in the interactive experience, drummers will be introduced to traditional African music and instruments (i.e. djimbe drum, kalimba (thumb piano), shakere) based on the celebrated performance called “The Spirit of Africa.” Together they will learn about ancient African civilizations through music, cultural traditions and storytelling. The family drum circles empower both the young and not-so-young, reaching its audiences at their very core, helping to create safe communities.

Approx. Time:  60 mins. 

Music for Aardvarks: Music for Aardvarks and Other Mammals is a place where parents and children can experience the power of music in a rich variety of ways. When caregivers participate in the class with a young child, they discover insight into their family relationship, gain a sense of themselves as role models and experience a deeper connection to the child through the songs they sing along together. During a session, a child will develop more self-control in a group, better listening skills, and the ability consistently to follow directions. Back and forth communication between caregiver and baby is fundamental to the wiring of the brain. Whether actively participating or simply listening and watching the performance, children are learning in ways that are right for them as individuals, and their own place.  Exposure to musical experiences, guidance and parental modeling allows young children to explore and learn on their own without the anxiety of others expectations. Parental willingness and enthusiasm are invaluable assets to the group as a whole, and exemplify for the child that joining in is not about “performing” but having fun together.  
Approx. Time: 60 mins. 

DANCE FiT:  Aerobic exercise has been long recognized as a method to reduce the cortisol levels in the brain that can become elevated in response to physical and psychological stress. When dance is introduced, it becomes a fun, energetic fitness class that uses a combination of music, dance and exercise to help individuals relieve stress and feel their best.  Some of the different styles include Zumba, Line Dance, MixxedFit, Urban Dance, Hip Hop and more. These classes are child friendly and are as beneficial to children as are to adults. 
Approx. Time: 60 mins. 

PlayBack Memphis: An UPP Playback Memphis performance uses improvisational theater as a technique to explore family life. In this unique collaboration- someone from the audience shares a personal story or moment and then watches as a team of professional actors and musicians bring it to life on the spot using movement, music, metaphor, and spoken improvisation. The subject of the ‘play’ is focused on increasing awareness of the impact of ACEs (adverse childhood experiences) on familial relationships across generations. The experience introduces the framework and language of non-violent communication as a tool to support families in decreasing ACEs . Participants grow in self-awareness and awareness of other and have the opportunity to practice empathic listening and compassionate communication. An UPP Playback performance is life-affirming and hope-centered with ample space for reflection and laughter. The lead actor and therapist process with the audience at the end. 

Dr. Katherine Lawson, Executive Director of Victims to Victory described the experience, “Playback was actually like an extension of their [the participants’] voices. It gave the audience an opportunity to see emotions demonstrated that, in some cases, they were not aware they had... bringing things out that needed to be brought out. It was also incredibly validating. The overwhelming feedback was that it was very therapeutic.”

Approx. Time: Two hrs. 

Mindful Motion:  Yoga is designed for the balanced health of an individual.  Often people find the practice of yoga through the path of their own suffering. People often come for a means to self-heal and work in specific areas of their life such as weight loss, flexibility, healing an injury, stress management, anger management, relaxation and peace of mind.  Yoga, at its core, is a set of practices for Self-realization and offers experiential training in ease, deep breathing, body/mind connection, integration, mindfulness, core strength and stability.  Yoga is a tool for teaching the body and mind how to feel safe, stable, connected, grounded, compassionate and feeling good.  When in balance, we have an easier time making the right choices.  
 Approx. Time: 60 mins. 

For more about Universal Parenting Places, visit www.theUPPs.org       
For more about ACE Awareness Foundation, visit www.aceawareness.org 

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