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Building Strong Brains Tennessee is a major statewide effort to establish Tennessee as a national model for how a state can promote culture change in early childhood based on a philosophy that preventing and mitigating adverse childhood experiences, and their impact, is the most promising approach to helping Tennessee children lead productive, healthy lives and ensure the future prosperity of the state.
Chronic childhood trauma, or what experts call adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), can disrupt a child's brain-building process. Like building a house in a storm or with below-grade materials and tools, ACEs are toxic to brain development and can compromise the brain’s structural integrity. Left unaddressed, ACEs and their effects make it more difficult for a child to succeed in school, live a healthy life and contribute to the state’s future prosperity — our communities, our workforce, and our civic life.
The Tennessee state effortis born from research gathered in the CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, one of the largest investigations of childhood abuse and neglect and their effects on life-long health and well-being. The study found that the greater the exposure to things such as domestic violence, addiction, depression in early childhood, the greater the risk for later-life problems such as higher risk for chronic illnesses, poverty, depression and addictive behaviors.
Tennessee is undertaking a comprehensive, coordinated effort to use this powerful insight to improve the lives of the state’s children. Leaders from state government, the business world, advocates, insurers, academia and nonprofit foundations are organized as public and private sector steering groups to guide implementation and provide leadership at the state, regional and community levels.