This speech was given by Ashley Allen during TrailheaDX in 2018.
Growing up my friends were living on the street, eating out of dumpsters, victims of sex trafficking and beat by their parents. My friends were the kids people looked at and said “Well I guess they never really had a chance” today they can’t be here with me because some of them are junkies, in jail, barely surviving on min wage or they have died. The fact that I stand here today is a miracle.
While working with at risk kids I learned about some research done by a group of doctors who gave scientific backing to the phrase “ they never had a chance” it’s called the ACE score, a measurement for “adverse childhood experiences” used to measure health of children across the nation.
The Ace score, is similar to the privilege walk but it asks questions like, was one of your parents in jail, were you abused as a child, did anyone love you? Those with a score of 4 or more are predicted to have 20 years taken off their life expectancy, are at very high risk of teen pregnancy, self injury, date rape, abusive relationships, drug addiction, suicide.
I have a score of 8 and I have survived all the above, but it’s not polite for me to talk about it. It makes people uncomfortable, so people like me keep silent.
Trailblazers with anxiety is a home for survivors. A place people can genuinely connect with others who live with the same fear of getting fired or passed for promotion for having anything but perfect mental health. They trust each other to help get through a mid conference panic attack, offer a listening ear instead of a stiff drink.
The goal is that where you come from is not where you are going. Its not just about what you have survived, Its about your resilience factors too.
Things like having neighbors who sheltered you, friends who become your family, Teachers who believe in your potential. Trailblazers with Anxiety exists because everyone needs Ohana AND because Equality For All needs to include Mental Health.
I hope everyone here can use their influence to shine a light on a dark subject and de-stigmatize getting help.