Since 2015, the ACE Awareness Foundation has been working to educate the Greater Memphis community about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), as well as supporting policies and practices that can prevent and mitigate the effects of toxic stress.
This work is incredibly important because ACEs are unbelievably common. Over half of the Memphis population has experienced at least one ACE, with 12% of Memphians reporting they’ve experienced four or more. These experiences are not the only source of toxic stress in our community; racism, bullying, and community violence can all produce the same corrosive stress response.
This toxic stress has a serious effect on our children’s brain development, impeding both their learning and their social-emotional growth. But there is good news. Children can heal from the damaging effects of toxic stress if they have safe, stable, and nurturing environments; supportive relationships with adults; opportunities to build executive function skills; and specialized interventions.
The ACE Awareness Foundation believes that these conditions should exist in every one of our schools. These trauma-informed schools could be a first line of defense against the widespread effects of traumatic stress and help mitigate the negative impact of adverse childhood experiences.
Frank Jemison is the Director of Education Outreach at the ACE Awareness Foundation. Frank worked in Memphis schools for seven years and now leads local trainings and outreach efforts for ACEAF. He is a Stand member and Momentum Memphis task force contributor.