“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. If you think ACEs are a plague of poverty, they’re not. The original population studies that validated the connection between childhood ACEs and later-life health outcomes, including chronic diseases and early death, looked at primarily white, educated upper middle class people. It can affect anyone and must be taken seriously. When a child is raised in an environment where emotional and verbal abuse, violence, mental illness, substance abuse, divorce or having an incarcerated relative is part of their experience, toxic stress and poor health are very real risks. Children who are not healthy cannot learn or be productive members of society. But as the title of the film “Resilience” implies, there is hope. Never miss a local story. Sign up today for a free 30 day free trial of unlimited digital access. SUBSCRIBE NOW Toxic stress and ACEs keep many of Charlotte’s communities from reaching their full potential. Certainly, the Leading on Opportunity Task Force’s report released in March recognized this impact. All of us need to understand and focus on this critical determinant of health outcomes and community wellness. Early and coordinated trauma-informed care must be carefully designed, coordinated