Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE's)

What are Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s)? There is more awareness and training in our area than ever before. Learn more about the partnership that brought ACE's information to high school students in Buchanan County in 2020 and again in 2021, when the same program was offered to incoming Freshmen. 

In late 2021, 31 community partners were trained as ACE Interface Master Trainers, with the goal of changing the trajectory of public health in our community. Using a train-the-trainer approach, trainers provide:

  • Education and dialogue to develop a common language and understanding of how adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) shape wellbeing.
  • Enhance skills and engagement of our community so people are knowledgeable about ACE concepts and have skills for recognizing what is helping or hurting while providing hope.
  • Support a culture shift and reduce stigma by changing the question from, “What’s wrong with you?" to "What’s happened to you?”. In addition, increasing understanding one of the most powerful determinants of health: ACEs.
  • Assure that generations flourish by working towards lowering the next generation’s ACE score so they can reach their full potential.

We are looking for various groups, departments, businesses, parent groups, churches and organizations that would allow Master Trainers to come in and present this vital information at no cost. Presentations can be tailored to the participants. If interested, please reach out to a health educator for more information.

Adverse Childhood Experiences Graphic

We have developed a network of ACE Master Trainers to promote ACE’s awareness to schools, agencies, and medical providers. Additionally, Mrs. West (school social worker with the St. Joseph School District, and subject matter expert) has conducted book studies to strengthen our understanding of traumatic events on children and the effects that adverse childhood experiences can have on long-term health. It makes sense that a young person who has endured adverse childhood experiences could have emotional and behavioral fall-out as a result, but ACE’s studies indicate that it goes beyond “acting out” in childhood or as a teen. 

This landmark work points to ACE’s as a root cause of heart disease, obesity, lung disease, cancers and more – in adults. Adults who experienced traumatic events in childhood can grow up to face poor health outcomes due to those experiences. Trauma in young people can actually change the structure of the brain, making it increasingly difficult to make good decisions, focus, remember, and so much more.

There is good news, though! In addition to helping parents/caregivers deliberately design a safe and loving environment where children can thrive, we can educate professionals in settings where children and youth are found: medical, school, athletic, clergy, law enforcement personnel and others. We can teach those who impact youth the signs of children in traumatic situations. Adults can learn how to safely show kids that they are advocating for them (and how to appropriately advocate for themselves), they care for them and they encourage them. This is where ACE's Master Trainers can help. Reach out to a health educator today for more information.

ACEs can be experienced by age 18 in the following categories:

  • Abuse: physical, emotional, and sexual abuse
  • Neglect: physical and emotional neglect
  • Household dysfunction: parental incarceration, mental illness, substance use, parental separation or divorce, and intimate partner violence

The ACE score is just one component of overall health, but it is an important one. and it can impact a person for a lifetime. 

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, M.D., seen here in a ground-breaking TED Talk, has been at the forefront of promoting the ACE’s revolution, but there are many others who offer resources.

Additional Resources