Notes from previous discussions are posted in a seventh grade advisory and seminar class, seen Wednesday, Mar. 23, 2016, in Chattanooga, Tenn., as several grades of Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences students discuss Chattanooga 2.0 during their seminar class

If you go

The ACEs community summit will be Tuesday at Memorial Auditorium, starting at 5:30 p.m. You can register online at or at the door.

Almost 25 percent of Tennesseans went through three or more stressful or traumatic experiences during their childhoods, according to a recent study.

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) from living in poverty, abuse, neglect and family dysfunction can follow people into adulthood and are linked to poor health outcomes, education failure and family instability.

To raise awareness of such adverse effects, the United Way of Greater Chattanooga and Chattanooga 2.0 are hosting a community summit Tuesdayon preventing toxic stress in children and reversing the effects of these experiences over time.

Lesley Scearce, president and CEO of the United Way, said the first 1,000 days of a child's life are critical for brain development. She hopes the summit will rally the community to address the root causes of adverse childhood experiences across the community.

"We need a culture shift in valuing the earliest days and understanding the vast impact it has on our community as a whole," Scearce said. "Children grow up in families and families exist in communities. It is our responsibility as a community to learn how we can give all kids what they need to thrive."

Dr. Pat Levitt, a senior fellow at the Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University, will be the keynote speaker. HE will speak about the neurodevelopment of children and how what happens to kids affects all of society.

Jared Bigham, coordinator of Chattanooga 2.0, said it's important for the community to learn ways to prevent and mitigate traumatic events that affect students' ability to live successful lives academically and emotionally.

"We have long recognized through our ongoing community engagement that success in the classroom hinges a great deal on the experiences children endure outside of school," Bigham added.

Along with the community summit, the United Way is hosting forums today and Tuesday for professional groups including behavioral counselors, medical professionals, youth service providers and the legal community.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam appropriated more than $1 million to support 13 ACEs Innovation Grants across Tennessee as a part of the state's Building Strong Brains initiative, and the United Way is one of the grant recipients.

Tennessee first lady Chrissy Haslam has been working with the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth to raise awareness about ACEs and will speak at Tuesday night's summit.

Contact staff writer Kendi A. Rainwater at or 423-757-6592. Follow on Twitter @kendi_and.