Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and their lasting impacts are the focus of a large-scale, national public awareness campaign that launched on Thursday, May 13th. ACEs are potentially stressful events or circumstances that occur during childhood or adolescence and include experiences like abuse, neglect, and having a family member with a mental illness or substance use issue.
An ACE score, ranging from zero to ten, measures these experiences in ten categories. The higher one’s score, the higher the likelihood that one may experience a number of challenges throughout life — from physical and mental health conditions, to educational and career difficulties, and even a shortened lifespan.
However, ACEs are not destiny.
Research shows that early detection and evidence-based interventions can reduce negative impacts. And prevention is possible. Understanding the story behind one’s score can empower and support people and families, which is what NumberStory.org — and “The Story of Your Number” campaign — is designed to do.
The campaign, funded through private philanthropy, is a creation of the ACE Resource Network. With an Advisory Council helmed by California Surgeon General, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, the ACE Resource Network was established to increase ACEs awareness and education, promote healing and prevention, and to disrupt the transmission of ACEs to future generations.
The impacts of childhood adversity and toxic stress can reach beyond lifespans to affect generations, and beyond individuals to impact communities. ACEs may well be the most important health crisis we face today.
Yet many organizations working to address ACEs struggle to get the support and attention they need because not enough people know about and understand the issues. This expansive campaign aims to change that, with a number of outreach strategies promoting key content, including short videos (like What is a Number Story?), infographics, and accessible scientific information.
Number Story is being launched with help from celebrities and influencers who have pledged to support the campaign. Harnessing the healing power of storytelling, the campaign is also partnering with Get Lit, a Los Angeles-based arts education nonprofit created to increase literacy, empower youth, and inspire communities through spoken word poetry. Several youth poets are writing and sharing poetry inspired by an understanding of ACEs. Each poet has been matched with an influencer who will introduce and share the poet’s powerful piece on social media. The series begins the week of May 17th and continues into July.
Number Story is participating as a founding partner of MTV’s first-ever Mental Health Action Day on Thursday, May 20th, offering the campaign’s message and resources to the collective effort encouraging people to take their first steps toward mental health action — for themselves, for their loved ones, or to advocate for systemic changes.
All campaign activities encourage people to visit NumberStory.org, available both in English and Spanish, to explore the impacts of ACEs and other childhood adversity, find practical tools for healing and prevention, learn about the science behind these concepts, and access additional resources.
For more information, contact Sarah Marikos, ACE Resource Network Executive Director, at sarah@ACEResourceNetwork.org.