What is an ACE?

Nearly 61% of Americans experience hardships in adulthood that are related to household struggles from their childhood.

These traumatic events that occur during adolescence are referred to as Adverse Childhood Experiences or ACEs. Looking closely at someone’s childhood experiences, there is a direct link between ACEs and adverse outcomes later in life. As the number of ACEs increases, so does a child’s risk of long-term health, social, and economic problems.

As seen in the illustration above, Adverse Childhood Experiences can lead to Adverse Community Environments, and United Way of the Mid-South is uniquely positioned to help alleviate adverse community environments with our aligned grant-making and Driving The Dream™ model.

The adverse community environments that arise from the effects of unaddressed ACEs have a tremendous impact on communities like the Mid-South. In partnership with the University of Memphis, United Way of the Mid-South offers training called Building a Trauma-Sensitive Community to local human service organizations aiding them in making cultural, physical, policy, and procedural changes to become more trauma-sensitive and responsive on an organizational level. This trauma-informed awareness effort provides local training for direct service workers in trauma-responsive approaches and builds upon the groundwork laid by Driving The Dream™.

Driving The Dream™ is an example of a thoughtful and data-driven approach to preventing ACEs which is helping move the needle on poverty in Shelby County. Since children are more likely to experience ACEs based on their economic status, family history, and community environment, Driving The Dream™ provides a framework of care that aims to connect people to all of the resources they need for financial stability and wellness in order to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty.

Everyone plays a part in preventing ACEs within our community. The CDC outlines that each of us can:

  • Recognize challenges that families face and offer support and encouragement to reduce stress.
  • Support community programs and policies that provide safe and healthy conditions for all children and families.
  • Reduce stigma around seeking help with parenting challenges or for substance misuse, depression, or suicidal thoughts.
  • Promote safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments where children live, learn, and play.

Reducing ACEs or decreasing the impact of these adversities has the potential to significantly impact the well-being of thousands of people in the Mid-South. By supporting United Way of the Mid-South, you can help move the needle on poverty and contribute to the future vitality of the community. Donate today.

Looking for resources or direct support? Dial (844) 444-4211 or complete this form to request to be connected to an agency in our network.

To learn more about Building a Trauma-Sensitive Community training, email Diana Bedwell.