Building strong brains Tennessee


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                  CONTACT: Michael J. Yates  PHONE: (865) 719-7221, May 7, 2018

Building Strong Brains Tennessee

Oak Ridge, TN — The future prosperity of any society depends on its ability to foster the health and well-being of the next generation. When Tennessee invests wisely in children and families, the next generation will pay that back through a lifetime of productivity and responsible citizenship.

Building Strong Brains (BSB) Tennessee is born from the groundbreaking 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.

“Trauma in childhood can lead to poor health in adulthood,” says ACE Awareness Foundation Director Ellen Rolfes. “When children experience strong, frequent or prolonged adversity at home, it creates toxic stress, which changes their brains – literally.” Like the construction of a home, the building process begins with laying the foundation, framing the rooms and wiring the electrical system in a predictable sequence.

Early experiences literally shape how the brain gets built, establishing either a sturdy or a fragile foundation for all of the development and behavior that follows. A strong foundation in the early years increases the probability of positive outcomes. A weak foundation increases the odds of later difficulties, and getting things right the first time is easier than trying to fix them later.

BSB 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.

Locally, Ridgeview Behavioral Health Services provides ACEs training to the community and schools through two certified BSB trainers, Amy Olson and Michael Yates. As Amy Olson said, “At Ridgeview, we’re committed to being part of the culture shift in how we understand the impact of trauma on the developing child from ‘What’s wrong with you’ to ‘What’s happened to you.’”

As part of mental health awareness month, community awareness about the lasting impact of ACEs and the importance of our collective efforts to mitigate its harm by investing wisely in children and families will indeed pay positive dividends through a lifetime of productivity and responsible citizenship.


Photo: Amy Olson and Michael Yates are trained facilitators in BSB TN.


Michael Yates is Director of Development for Ridgeview

Ridgeview is a private, not for profit community mental health center with locations in Anderson, Campbell, Morgan, Roane, and Scott counties.