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February Updates

Our Mission and Values 

February marks Black History Month, and April marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. As a Memphis-based organization, we are committed to collaborating with local officials to bring positive change to our community. 

Last month, we were proud to participate in the National Civil Rights Museum’s King Day march. 

Our mission is to educate Greater Memphis about adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), support families in their efforts to prevent and mitigate ACEs, and change local and state systems to support ACE prevention efforts.

In reflecting on these events, we want to underscore the universality of ACEs, which can occur in all types of homes regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or religious affiliation. We are committed to preventing adverse childhood experiences for all children and look forward to building a brighter future together

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Nationally Renown Doctor Calls for Universal ACE Screening

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, a pediatrician and the founder of theCenter for Youth Wellnessin San Francisco, published her latest book “The Deepest Well: Healing and the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity” last month. Since then, she has held multiple interviews withThe New York Times, NPR, and Fox Newsexplaining the effects of childhood adversity on the biology and physiology of the human body over time. The three types of ACEs she identifies are abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction. Dr. Burke Harris explains in her interview with NPR that “this is not a poverty problem. This is not a race problem. This is a function of human biology. It is the way all of our bodies are wired. And now we can use this science to improve outcomes for everyone.”

When confronted with the question of what to do about it, Dr. Burke Harris’ solution is clear: screening of the entire population. She suggests this screening be done through primary care, which she described to David Bornstein from The New York Times as “no different than laying a stethoscope on a patient’s chest.” She went on to say, “if you’re waiting until you get to a mental health practitioner, you’re going to be too late, and a lot of kids will be missed. Our screening can be done in three minutes or less.” The overall goal is to reduce trauma in children’s lives and therefore reduce health risks as their lives progress. Universal ACE screening would lead to more early quality intervention.

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State Level Action on ACEs

Read about recent efforts to combat ACEs beyond our home state of Tennessee.

First up: Indiana. In Indianapolis, Christy Gauss, the Indiana School Mental Health Facilitator, has been working with schools to better address the mental health needs of students. According to an article from Wish TV, Gauss said “when we ask the teachers what is your biggest concern, it’s not the curriculum. It’s not the content they’re delivering. It’s what they’re saying are behaviors and this is the stress response they’re seeing in their classrooms.” Teachers are currently advocating for communities to implement “trauma-informed care” to identify and address student needs.

On the other side of Indiana in LaPorte County, the LaPorte Circuit Court and the LaPorte County United Way’s System of Care are entering into a partnership to spread awareness of ACEs. A story from the Michigan City News Dispatch reported that “[the court] has received a $4,125 grant from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute to provide ACE facilitator training to 120 individuals in LaPorte County.”

Lastly, advocates in New Mexico are seeking additional state funding to expand preventative services in the form of voluntary home visits. New Mexico and Arizona both have the highest rate of children suffering from ACEs in the U.S. According to a report in the Albuquerque Journal, the New Mexico House recently approved an additional 1 percent for the state’s Land Grant Permanent Fund that would be used to increase preventative services. The bill is now in front of the state Senate. The story adds that “If it does make it through, the legislation could generate $150 million a year for early childhood programs, including home visiting programs” to screen for abuse and neglect.

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Upcoming Events

Mark your calendar for these upcoming events brought to you by the ACE Awareness Foundation and our partners across the state:

4th Annual Rachel Shankman Symposium

This year’s symposium will feature a keynote address from Dr. Rachel Yehuda who will facilitate a discussion about how trauma influences the way Holocaust survivors and their descendants navigate the world.

  • February 21, 2018, 8:00am to 2:00pm
  • University of Memphis (Memphis, TN)
  • Register online with Facing History and Ourselves

Tennessee Commission on Children & Youth Children’s Advocacy Days

Each year, children’s advocates gather in harmony to network, share information and updates on children’s issues, share what they know about the needs of Tennessee children with policymakers, and enjoy Nashville.

The event will include presentations from: Dr. Vincent Felitti, leading expert in childhood trauma and co-principal investigator of the ACEs Study; Dr. Roy Wade Jr., instructor of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania and pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; Doug Overbey, U.S. Attorney, Eastern District of Tennessee; a gubernatorial panel forum; a Blue Ribbon Task Force on Juvenile Justice panel; a Commissioner’s panel discussion; and a Governor’s Awards of Excellence.

  • March 13, 10:00am to March 14, noon
  • War Memorial Building (Nashville, TN)
  • Register online
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