Panel discussion will follow free film at Liberty Theater

See how Trauma Informed Care transformed a school

By Sue Cody


Dr. David Labby“It takes a village to raise a child,” says Dr. David Labby. “It takes a strong village when dealing with people who have had a lot of trauma.” Labby is the retired chief medical officer of Health Share of Oregon and will sit on a panel for a discussion after the free community showing of “Paper Tigers” April 5 at the Liberty Theater in Astoria. There will be hors d’oeuvres and information tables in the lobby.


Labby says he hasn’t seen the documentary film that follows students at Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, Wash. But he does have experience in Trauma Informed Care that takes into account Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).


“Paper Tigers” has reached national acclaim as a successful example of implementing Trauma Informed Care by taking into account adverse childhood experiences and providing better outcomes for students.


It was about 15 years ago that Jill Quackenbush got interested in ACEs. She was working in public health and later attended a parenting education conference. One of the speakers was Dr. Vincent Felitti, an author of the ACE study.


“I was just floored by the research,” Quackenbush says. “I was excited to see where we need to focus our efforts.”


Quackenbush is now Clatsop County’s prevention coordinator and a member of the Way to Wellville Advisory Council’s Emotional Health team. As the team identified focus areas such as suicide, addiction and mental illness, the ACEs study came into play.


When we looked at the research, we were drawn to address ACEs by implementing Trauma Informed Care solutions,” she says. “Around the time we were coming up with a big plan, the film ‘Paper Tigers’ was advertised as being available.”


“Through Way to Wellville, we applied for a grant from Providence Health & Services. They were willing to support our efforts and helped us reach our goal for the community. We are really happy about that.”


This film is for everyone interested in children and transforming society, Quackenbush says. “It is possible to improve relationships with teens.”


PT screencap - Lincoln High School exterior kids hanging outDr. Labby’s research


Funded by a federal grant, Labby and colleagues studied 50 high users of the health care system to create a system of care for Medicaid patients. They interviewed people living under bridges, on the streets and others in the Portland metro area.


“These people had extremely troubled lives,” Labby says. “Most had a series of adverse events that left them marginalized, isolated and with many mental and physical problems.”


“We were interested in what we can do to help struggling families. We wanted to move upstream. Where the parents lack jobs, have substance abuse or use violence, the kids are neglected or abused. Struggling families can’t take care of their kids.


“We found that a cascade of things happens when the children grow up, such as substance abuse, homelessness or jail.”


The health care system needs to work with families before the kids enter school.


“It is clear we need to look through the adversity lens,” Labby says. By treating children through Trauma Informed Care, they have a better chance of graduating high school and getting a better job. Studies show high school graduates have better health.


Labby says the metro area has a lot to learn about Clatsop County. “There is a lot of engagement and opportunity in urban areas,” he says. “It is possible to bring partners to the table for a group of visionary leaders in a smaller community. Perhaps the smaller communities can show the way.”


How Trauma Informed Care works


Quackenbush says, “When we look at services, instead of asking ‘What’s wrong with you?’ we ask, ‘What happened to you?’ By using such strategies, we can learn how to treat each other in all places, not just practitioners and patients, but kids in school, coaches and players, colleagues in the workplace, parents and children. We all come to the table with baggage that influences how we react and internalize processing. We can become trauma sensitive.”


“I am excited about showing this documentary. Experts in the field of childhood trauma will have a panel discussion following the screening.”




Dr. David Labby, retired Health Share of Oregon medical officer

Liz Covey, counselor specializing in trauma

Debbie Morrow, Warrenton-Hammond School Board chair

Sumuer Watkins, CEO, Clatsop Behavioral Health


PT screencap - Erik Gordon's class about ACEsResources available


Resources from Trauma Informed Oregon, The Harbor, Northwest Parenting, CASA and others will offer resources at the showing.


There will be counselors, mental health professionals and people who work in behavioral health ready to talk to anyone who needs to talk. “The intent is to have ‘safe’ people at the showing, so if anyone’s trauma is triggered by the film, they will have someone to talk to,” Quackenbush says.


Copies of the documentary will be available to schools and others through Way to Wellville and the Northwest Education Service District.

Paper Tiger Poster