“Shaping Destiny” Film Shines Light on Local Mental Health, Resiliency
coalition of local organizations hopes to improve mental health of, educate those in Chippewa Valley
Mental Health Matters Coalition is an organization created for improving youths’ mental health in the Eau Claire and Chippewa Counties. Their short film Shaping Destiny is the culmination of an educational workshop created to teach youth-serving professionals about mindfulness and mental health support for the counties’ youth.
The Coalition is comprised of 20+ groups, including E.C. and Chippewa counties’ health departments, law enforcement, school representatives, medical centers, UW-Eau Claire, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and more, who have collaborated in improving the mental health of not just youth in the Chippewa Valley but adults too.
The health departments of Eau Claire and Chippewa counties discovered through a community health needs assessment back in 2016 that improving mental health was a top priority for their residents. After receiving an 8-year grant from the Medical College of Wisconsin, the Coalition decided to prioritize educating youth-serving professionals on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and protective factors against those ACEs as a way to create resiliency in youth. ACEs can be anything negatively affecting a child’s formative years, including abuse, parents’ divorce, having an incarcerated family member, and more.
the purpose of the film is to continue the education of the community around aces and resiliency.
We really hope it leaves everyone with hope that ‘I’m not alone’ because one, ACEs are very common, and two, there’s something tangible that you (and) the community can do to build resiliency and have a healthier community.
PUBLIC HEALTH SPECIALIST FOR THE E.C. CITY-COUNTY HEALTH DEPT.
“We define resiliency as the ability to bounce back from adversity, and how amazing would it be for every single youth in the Chippewa Valley to be resilient,” said Elizabeth Hagen, Project Evaluator for the Coalition and Public Health Specialist for the Eau Claire City-County Health Department. “Resiliency isn’t something that you’re born with and it’s not something that you either have or don’t have, it’s really something that can be taught and grown within yourself, and that’s where that role of youth-serving professionals can help.”
For the past five years, the Coalition has been providing these workshops to youth-serving professionals. When debating how to spread this workshop further into the community and make it sustainable to last for years even after the grant ends in 2024, they decided to produce the short film Shaping Destiny with Soul Shine Creative Studio.
The film includes dynamic aspects to keep the audience engaged, including animation, testimonials from adults with ACEs, and local youth showcasing protective factors like the importance of healthy relationships, the importance of high expectations, and being able to make decisions and creative expression; the film also highlights two youth-serving professionals with methods for supporting youth mental health: a teacher who does yoga and some mindfulness practices, and one who works with youth through physical activity and exercise.
“The purpose of the film is to continue the education of the community around ACEs and resiliency,” said Hagen. “We really hope it leaves everyone with hope that ‘I’m not alone’ because one, ACEs are very common, and two, there’s something tangible that you (and) the community can do to build resiliency and have a healthier community.”