An artistic organization fights against childhood trauma


CINCINNATI – For this singer, it is art on the aces, or the negative experiences of childhood.

What would you like to know

  • Cincinnati artist Kathy Wade leads art learning efforts to fight ACE
  • The pleasure of learning leads to self-expression which builds resilience
  • Family and community are just as important as the individual in overcoming ACE

While the effects of ACEs tell us about human challenges, Kathy Wade’s work in Cincinnati and beyond shows us the human possibilities.

“We know that art is our most common bond because art makes us human,” she said.

The jazz singer-turned-entrepreneur-turned-children’s advocate runs several programs under the aegis of her organization, Learning Through Art. And the EMMY award winning “Books Alive!”. series, featuring the indomitable Paige Turner, is at the heart of Wade’s work.

I spoke with Wade in the studio she uses for the show – under Paige’s watchful eye, of course. If this all sounds a bit too much fun considering the intensity of negative experiences kids can have, you’re missing the point.

While battling ACEs, Wade explains that pleasure enables self-expression.

“We are able to take stories and help people, especially children, identify ways to express themselves. And self-expression leads to a critical destination, she said. “What we’re trying to do when you look at ACEs is create a more resilient individual. “

Trauma resilience is like a strong wind blowing down your back, helping a person overcome health issues related to toxic stress.

But for Wade, what happens to the collective is just as important as the individual.

“It’s really important that when we look at our Arts Over ACEs center, we deal with the whole family,” Wade explained.

That’s why as fun as it is to watch Paige cast a shadow over Bruce Rico Wade (Kathy’s brother) in “Books Alive!” episodes, each story is accompanied by a series of activities for adults and children to complete together.

“Ultimately, it’s not just this individual, but collectively this family becomes stronger and more resilient, which is so important when dealing with ACEs,” Wade said.

Wade’s work is just beginning to gain the broader attention needed to bring the fight against ACEs to the forefront of the concerns of a wider audience. And behind Wade’s impact is his recognition that the trauma of ACE doesn’t end once the kids get older.

Enter Charges of Love – a project Wade organized with Dr. Erica Page, who helps oversee Wade’s programming.

“Laundry is a very interesting process. It takes 30 minutes to wash, 30 minutes to dry, ”Page said.

Like the “Living Books!” fun with Paige and her friends, Loads of Love emphasizes skill building activities.

“The 30 minutes you wash, we cite the problem – look at all the places and rooms we can put together, so by the time we get to the drying cycle, we are looking at and identifying solutions and skills.”

Wade’s work shows that you can fight ACE while embracing art and humanity. And art is that wind at your back when building resilience.


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