The Oxford County Wellness Collaborative is hosting a screening of Paper Tigers, a film that captures the pain, danger, beauty and hopes of struggling teens—and the teachers armed with new science and fresh approaches that are changing lives for the better.
The documentary film will be shown at 6:oo pm on Thursday, March 31 at The Gem Theater in Bethel and is free and open to the public. Paper Tigers follows a year in the life of an alternative high school in Walla Walla, Washington, that has radically changed its approach to disciplining its students, and in the process has become a promising model for how to break the cycles of poverty, violence and disease that affect families.
A short, facilitated discussion will take place after the movie to allow audience members the opportunity to reflect on the film and what it means for the community. Recent showings of the movie in Rumford and South Paris sparked moving and insightful comments and drew a combined 100 people.
The Wellness Collaborative’s Community Safety Workgroup is working to hold showings of the film across the county in an effort to build awareness of some of the key ideas underlying the documentary, including Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), toxic stress, trauma-informed care, and non-punitive approaches to education. ACEs refers to traumatic experiences that can have long-lasting negative impacts on health and wellness. The screenings will be followed by an educational opportunity held in the spring to deepen the understanding around ACEs and resiliency—the idea that a safe environment with caring, healthy relationships can help us to heal from trauma. “We are very excited to be able to bring Paper Tigers to the Bethel area, and to be partnering with The Gem Theater to offer this important film for free” says Brendan Schauffler of the Oxford County Wellness Collaborative. “We know from our members that the topic of Adverse Childhood Experiences is very important, and deserves more attention so that we can create the sort of informed and resilient communities that will allow our kids to become successful adults.”
Paper Tigers is an intimate look into the lives of selected students at Lincoln High School, an alternative school that specializes in educating traumatized youth. Set amidst the struggling rural community of Walla Walla, the film intimately examines the inspiring promise of Trauma-Informed Communities—a movement that is showing great promise in healing youth struggling with the dark legacy of Adverse Childhood Experiences. Following six students over the course of a school year, we see Lincoln’s staff try a new approach to discipline: one based on understanding and treatment rather than judgment and suspension. Using a combination of documentary and revealing diary cam footage, Paper Tigers is a testament to what the latest developmental science is showing: that just one caring adult can help break the cycle of adversity in a young person’s life. Although the movie takes place in a school setting, it holds relevance for every community member. The film contains harsh language and some graphic footage and may not be suitable for young children.
The Oxford County Wellness Collaborative is a network of individuals and organizations who are committed to making Oxford County a healthier place to live, work, play and raise a family. The Collaborative formed in 2011 as a result of the county-wide community reflecting on Community Health Needs Assessment data. This data, combined with troubling results from the annual County Health Rankings, prompted many to respond by forming the Collaborative to address priority health areas in a more coordinated, cohesive manner. The network is arranged around several workgroups: Healthy Food, Active Living, Community Safety (focused on interpersonal violence and abuse, such as child abuse, domestic violence, elder abuse, etc) Behavioral Health (substance abuse and mental health) and Community Engagement.
The Oxford County Wellness Collaborative is currently administered by Healthy Oxford Hills, a Healthy Maine Partnership and a project of Stephens Memorial Hospital.
Date: Thursday, March 31
Time: 6:00–8:30 pm
Location: The Gem Theater, 23 Cross St., Bethel
Complimentary childcare will be provided.
For more information on Paper Tigers and to view the trailer, visit

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