Every West Virginia child represents hope for the state’s future. Within every child is there is the potential to become a leader, an innovator or a community servant. The fulfillment of that potential is dependent on physical and emotional health throughout childhood. Adult health is directly connected to the quality of our experiences as children.

The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study suggests that childhood abuse and household dysfunction contribute to the development, decades later, of the causes of poor health, death and disability.

The study examined the long-term effects of abuse during childhood. A strong relationship was seen between the number of adverse experiences and self-reports of cigarette smoking, obesity, physical inactivity, alcoholism, drug abuse, depression, suicide attempts, teen pregnancy, and other disease. Similarly, the more adverse childhood experiences reported, the more likely the person was to have heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, skeletal fractures, liver disease, and poor health as an adult.

The Sisters of St. Joseph Health and Wellness Foundation was established to address the health needs of West Virginians. There is a growing body of research telling us that to do this effectively, we must make the quality of early experiences and the health of children and youth a top priority.

To learn more about the ACE study, please refer to the resources in the box.