Winona State prof, Resilient founder hailed as ‘Champion for Children’

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WINONA, Minn. (WKBT) — Ruth Charles, the founder and co-chair of Resilient Winona County, received the Minnesota 2020 Champion for Children Award for her devotion to promoting trauma-informed care and resilience.

Ruth CharlesThe nonprofit Minnesota Communities Caring for Children (now FamilyWise) presents the award annually to just a few people who go above and beyond to improve the lives of children and families throughout the Gopher State.

Charles, a social work professor at Winona State University, is an expert in trauma, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and building resilience.
“Teaching the community about trauma and how it impacts everything in a child or person’s life gives us the tools to transform how we support and care for each other,” Charles said.
“Realizing that it’s not about you, but what happened to you, just makes sense,” she said. “I have to keep responding and helping.”
Resilient Winona County is a volunteer coalition of more than 40 organizations and 200 individuals who are working to foster a resilient, trauma-informed community. The group focuses on healing and addressing causes of individual and community trauma.
“Ruth is passionate about ensuring trauma-informed child welfare policies and practices and has catalyzed countywide initiatives in Winona to build community resilience,” said Barb Sorum, who directs FamilyWise’s prevention initiatives for southern Minnesota.
“Winona is a leader across the state for building resilient communities thanks to the hard work of Ruth and Resilient Winona County,” Sorum said.
Charles has given more than 100 presentations at locations ranging from the Mayo Clinic to Winona Area Public Schools, brought films to the Frozen River Film Festival and taught workshops to parents and educators.
Late last year, Charles testified before the Minnesota House of Representatives on the importance of understanding ACEs and funding trauma-informed programs and education.
More information, free resources and requests for presentations are available at Resilient Winona County’s website or Facebook page.