Nurturing environment crucial for children

Published 9:14 am Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Guest Column by Becky Tennis-Hanson

As an occupational therapist and early childhood special education teacher, I worked for many years with students in the school system to help them realize their fullest potential. During this time, I spent the majority of my time with the very young learners. We know that there is more brain growth and development that occurs during these early years than at any other stage in a person’s development. That is why it is so important for children to experience the most supportive and nurturing environment possible with positive relationships with caregivers during these vital years of learning. When conditions of toxic stress exist over time, young children’s cognitive growth and social and emotional well-being can be compromised. This can result in challenges for children during their growing up years.  It can also lead to challenges in both physical and mental health into and throughout adulthood.

Becky Tennis-Hanson

Becky Tennis-Hanson

A group of people who have been interested in learning more about the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Study have been meeting for the past two years. Efforts have been made to share this information across our community. The goal has been to increase awareness so that we can build the kind of caring relationships needed to support both children and adults who have experienced ACEs. With a caring environment, there will hopefully be greater possibility of resilience in those who have been affected by ACEs.

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On Thursday there is a community event that has been planned by the ACEs committee. Dr. Mark Sander, a clinical psychologist, will be the keynote speaker who will focus on understanding the impact of adverse childhood experiences on our bodies, brains, behavior and social interactions. He will share how this understanding will enable us to create promising futures and promote resilience in ourselves and others. The event is free and open to the public.  Please join us at the Albert Lea High School auditorium from 6 to 8:30 p.m. for the presentation.


Becky Tennis Hanson is a retired occupational therapist and early childhood special education teacher. She worked with Austin Public Schools for 35 years with a focus on children from birth through 5 years of age who were experiencing difficulty with development.