Building Resilient Tennesseans

The facilitating speaker for this recent adult workshop is Marissa Player-Montgomery, Southeast regional director for the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth. A wife and mother of five, she received her degree in Child and Family Studies, Education, and Criminal Justice from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and she also completed a master’s degree in Forensics, Clinical Counseling, and Criminology and Law from Walden University. 

Resilience can be defined as the action and outcome of successfully dealing with and adapting to difficult life experiences. In this workshop, Marissa stresses the importance of being a positive light in a child’s life in order to build a resilient adult. Offering care, love, and support could change a child’s entire future.

Everyone has experienced trauma, but not all trauma is equivalent in impact or duration. For example, the trauma most of us experienced from living through COVID-19 was a tolerable stress. Other examples of tolerable stress include experiencing a death in the family or surviving a natural disaster.

Toxic stress, on the other hand, causes frequent and strong adversity. Examples of toxic stress include neglect, violence, and abuse. The Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) test can measure traumatic experiences in childhood and how those experiences may correlate to autoimmune diseases and other serious conditions in adulthood.

In this workshop, Marissa explains how important it is to invest in the children of our communities, so they can reap the benefits later. We can do this in several ways: 
• Showing physical affection
• Giving them undivided attention
• Spending one-on-one time with them 
• Listening to them and their needs 
• Being a positive role model
• Showing concern for their interests

She also explains that it is important to protect our children before they are even born. Studies show that infants in utero are experiencing what their mothers are experiencing, so it is important to teach young mothers that personal experiences during pregnancy can affect their infants. Providing a good foundation for a child is a core factor in healthy development.

Elaina Swallow is an intern at RiseUP who is obtaining a bachelor’s degree in social work at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She is also a part-time nanny whose favorite things to include hiking, exploring the city, and getting coffee with friends.

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