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Spotlight: Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

Headlines continue to highlight a troubling reality: people in Southern Maine are struggling with their mental health. Our state has one of the highest rates of adults diagnosed with depression in the country.

Thrive2027’s Goal 3 is to help more people live longer, better and reduce preventable deaths. The work of Thrive2027 partners like United Way of Southern Maine (UWSM) focuses on several factors that affect health and well-being, including mental health; suicide prevention; and substance use prevention, treatment, and recovery solutions.

But there is also much we can do to prevent or limit these challenges in the first place. Adverse Childhood Experiences, also called ACEs, are traumatic events from childhood that can have a profound life-long impact. ACEs add up—the more trauma a child goes through, the more likely they are to experience effects like toxic stress, which can alter brain development (CDC Fact Sheet).

Thanks to generous supporters like you, United Way and Thrive2027 are working to address ACEs in our community head-on. Thrive2027’s Goal 1 is to help more children in Southern Maine get a strong start by uniting community partners around the shared aim of reducing ACEs and building a community that knows how to support people who have experienced trauma.

How We Prevent ACEs—and help more people live longer, better

There is no single solution to preventing ACEs. These are complex issues that require many partners, who hold a piece of the solution, working toward a shared vision.

Additionally, United Way of Southern Maine offered free ACEs training to its nonprofit partner organizations and mobilizes the community to help build a Southern Maine community that understands and can respond to the effects of trauma.

There is good news. Happy childhood moments also have a lifelong impact. We can create Positive Childhood Experiences (PCEs) for children with actions as simple as reading a bedtime story, volunteering as a mentor, or supporting high-quality early learning programs by directing a gift to UWSM’s Children’s Education Fund.

Dive Deeper on ACEs – Read, Watch, Learn


Creating a Trauma-Responsive Community in Biddeford

“Our goal is to move from a trauma-informed community to a trauma-responsive and more equitable community.” — Nicole Rea, Biddeford Ready! Coordinator

In Biddeford, many organizations have trained staff in recognizing and reducing ACEs. What comes next?

Biddeford Ready! (BR!) helps the youngest community members get the resources they need to thrive in kindergarten and beyond. Recognizing the need for a community-wide approach to ACEs, BR! collaborated with Coastal Healthy Communities Coalition, City of Biddeford, Heart of Biddeford, Pinetree Institute, and Seeds of Hope Neighborhood Center to hold an ACEs/PCEs Summit this summer. Representatives from 24 Biddeford-area organizations came to the table to hear from experts, share their ACEs/PCEs strategies, and examine the root causes of ACEs in Biddeford.

The hope is to create a local network where they can all make an even greater impact by working together, rather than individually, to create a resilient, trauma-responsive community.

For more information or to participate in the next ACEs/PCEs Summit, contact Nicole Rea at nrea@uwsme.org.


Take Action

Attend a Childhood Resiliency Training
United Way of Southern Maine and the Maine Resilience Building Network are offering free Childhood Resiliency training for individuals and organizations in Cumberland County. Participants will learn more about Thrive2027, the impact of ACEs and PCEs, and strategies to build resilience. This training series is made possible with support from Unum. Register.

Support Thrive2027. Your gift is an investment in positive change in our community and will help to give kids a strong start, empower our neighbors to thrive – not just survive, and help us all live longer, better.

Endorse Thrive2027
Help drive change and join the more than 300 organizations and individuals engaged with Thrive2027. The first step is simple: declare your support of our community’s vision by endorsing Thrive2027.


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