Inspiring Others to Overcome Their Own Adverse Experiences
Steve Adubato goes One-on-One with Ashanti Jones, MSW, Neighborhood Ally Coordinator, South Ward Children’s Alliance, to talk about her personal connection to adverse childhood experiences (ACES) and how she hopes her story inspires others to push through and overcome their own obstacles.
"We are honored to be joined by Ashanti Jones, a Neighborhood Ally Coordinator South Ward Children's Alliance. Good to see you. Good to see you too. Thanks for having me. Ashanti, we met you through our good friend and colleague, Michael Hill, right here. We're taping at NJTV. NJTV News did a... Michael did a five part series on adverse childhood experiences, ACEs. He featured you? Correct. Told your story. You're gonna help tell it here. Before you tell it, Michael, I will say that when we had Michael on our One on One program, Michael said that no interview has ever moved him in the way his interview with you did. You were seven years of age. Talk about adverse childhood experiences. What happened at seven? At seven, I was removed from my mom's care due to drug abuse and neglect, and placed into foster care. Separated from my older and younger brother. How long were you separated from your family? Well, we're still separated. But I was adopted at 16. So 10 years later. So, you know, your parents were drug-addicted? You grew up around violence? Yes. Poverty? And this adverse childhood experiences initiative, which people are talking about nationally, which is part of our larger... and you'll see the website as I talk about this, our Right From the Start NJ initiative, which talks about what happens to infants and toddlers growing up, and the long term impact. Mm hmm. Very few... well, let me say this. We wish more folks who experienced the kind of adverse childhood experiences you did have grown up... were able to grow up to do what you're doing right now. Mm hmm. First of all, what happened at 17 for you that turned things around? Well at 17, I was a senior in high school, at West Orange High School, and... In Newark? In... well that was in West Orange, so West Orange High School. Oh West...? Oh, really? Yeah. I was at West Orange High School for only a year. It was my last year in high school. It was my third high school. And it was time to graduate, you know. And all of my colleagues were graduating. And my guidance counselor pretty much sat me down, and it was like, "You have a 0.7 GPA." Like, "It's not gonna happen for you." And I kind of took that and was like, "How can I possibly know?" You know, that my mom's story and everything that happened with her, and see what happened to her, and I mean us, her children, and knowing that I wanted to be a mother. "How can I...? You allow that to happen..."