Back in August, I had the privilege of being a panel member for ALLIANCE’s screening of the documentary ‘Resilience’, as part of the 2018 Declaration Festival (this link will take you away from our website) which was focused this year on the theme of ‘ACEs and Human Rights’.

Critically acclaimed, ‘Resilience’ delves into the science of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and the movement to treat and prevent toxic stress.

The night consisted of a screening of the documentary, followed by a Q and A session with the panel, which included a wide range of professionals from NHS Health Scotland to Parent Network Scotland. It became quickly apparent that I was the only young person in the room, but that was no reason to shy away.

I have been championing the issue of ACEs since June now in my capacity as a Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYP) for Cowdenbeath, after my policy motion successfully passed at our most recent National Sitting. Now a piece of official SYP policy, this motion gives us as MSYPs the mandate to go out and to take action.

My motion reads:

“The Scottish Youth Parliament believes that there should be a greater awareness of the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs); and that nation and local government, and the NHS, should seek to raise awareness, and invest in initiatives using a human rights based approach which promote safe, stable and nurturing relationships and environments which can have a positive impact on a broad range of problems and on the development of skills that will help children and young people reach their full potential.”

The night of the screening was the second time I had watched ‘Resilience’. Just like the first time, the documentary really struck me and made me frustrated. Frustrated that it wasn’t being spoken about more – or in the media – and that it wasn’t getting attention or funding for prevention. It is a wide-scale public health crisis, but yet is swept under the carpet.

I was excited to see what the audience would think of the documentary, and for the questions and comments which would follow the screening. If you have seen the documentary, you will know that it covers a range of sectors and issues that children and young people face. It also goes into detail about how you are more likely to die from heart disease or be dependent on drugs... things that can be very alarming for someone watching it for the first time.

As the only young person in the room, it was alarming for my work around such an important issue. The reason for it, I believe, is that there isn’t enough publicity around the issue. If we made this personal to young people, it would spark an uprising of young people, all wanting to get involved to resolve ACEs.

I think it’s vital we involve young people in the work on ACEs. The issue of ACEs isn’t the responsibility of just the government, or just the NHS – it’s the responsibility of everyone in Scotland. The movement in Scotland is community-based and community-led, and we need to get young people involved in this movement, in the grassroots work.

We need to give young people the chance to use their voice, to take a stand and to say no more. If you work with young people, take a human rights-based approach to ACEs. Ask their opinion and ask them to get involved.

We can be the generation to make Scotland an ACE aware nation.