Improve Charlotte by Reducing Traumatic Childhood Events

In the following op-ed published by the Charlotte Observer, CHHS Dean Nancy Fey-Yensan and Liz Winer of the Winer Family Foundation reflect on the need for Charlotte to come together to address early childhood trauma.

“We’ve done enough planning, it’s time to act.” It was a simple enough message from Vi Lyles, speaking less than 24 hours after she won the city’s mayoral election. Lyles, a last minute addition to the crowd of more than 250 screening the film “Resilence” at the UNC Charlotte Center City Campus, delivered impromptu comments that drew a standing ovation.

The civic leaders there convened to learn about and to heighten awareness of the profound impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs. ACEs are negative life experiences that children undergo very early in their lives (0-3) when they face continued toxic stress and trauma. Indisputable brain science clearly shows that ACEs place children at disproportionate risk for deeply serious and recurrent health and social problems not only during childhood, but throughout their lives. Toxic stress not only affects children’s brains, it negatively influences their biology, hurting their long-term health at a very early age.