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My oldest graduated elementary school yesterday and I will admit that I shed more than a few tears at his end-of-year ceremony as the entire school community literally “clapped out” the sixth grade. Someone told me to make sure I bring my sunglasses and I am grateful for that advice. While elementary school graduation may not be as big of a deal as high school or college, it still felt like a pretty big milestone for him and our family.  I think back to his first day of kindergarten in 2012 . His youngest sister was still in a baby backpack as we walked him half of a block to his first day of school with another toddler in tow. My wife and I spent a lot of time in that classroom–we eagerly volunteered to share a weekly volunteer spot in his class and attended the frequent performances and parties hosted by his amazing teacher. Almost seven years (and two cross-country moves) later, he biked himself to his last day of elementary school and I had to promise to make sure I hung out with the other parents (and not him) at the end-of-year BBQ celebration.

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Sitting on my bookshelf in my office is a framed copy of Time Magazine from April 14, 1997. On the cover is a picture of Ellen DeGeneres with the headline “Yep, I’m Gay,”

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Anyone who attended last year’s (2017) ACEs Conference hosted by the Center for Youth Wellness knows there was an exceptional line-up of speakers. From Nadine Burke-Harris and her welcoming remarks to Bryan Stevenson’s closing keynote, there were many inspirational examples of work being done to push the ACEs movement “from awareness to action.” The format of the conference also encouraged interaction of attendees, which was a strong reminder that sparks of change can originate in unexpected places. I noticed this even before the conference started. As I was waiting in line to pick up my badge, I struck up a conversation with the person standing next to me in line. This experience was a reminder that you just never know who you will meet and what type of journey you might end up on together.

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