Building Better Brains

March 29, 2017 at 10:42 am Leave a comment

Several of our MPH students attended the annual meeting of the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP), held this year March 4 – 7, in Kansas City, MO. What follows is a post from one of these attendees.

By Francine Wood, BS

I jumped at the opportunity to attend the AMCHP conference. As a public health student, attending a public health focused conference was one of the milestones that I was encouraged to achieve prior to graduating. With this in mind, I was ecstatic to take advantage of all the sessions and networking opportunities available at the conference.

The first session, a skills building session, happened to be my favorite. The session, Building Better Brains: Using Partnership Early Brain Development to Impact Academic Success and Life-Long Health, focused on using the life course approach to improve the health outcomes during early childhood. The brain is not fully developed at birth and most of the structural development occurs between 3 – 5 years. Although, this is an important stage, brain development is an on-going process and development of different parts such as the frontal lobe can occur as late as age 25. Understanding these mechanisms as public health professionals is important but it is vital to explain the science of early brain development to stakeholders who impact the development of babies, children, teenagers and youth. One of the organizations that has been successful in driving positive change within these populations is the Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students (GEEARS). The organization has engaged parents, legislators, government officials and other stakeholders to understand what promotes, derails and affects brain development using tools such as the Brain Architecture Game. GEEARS did not achieve its success in a silo, it partnered with the University of Georgia and had the support of the Georgia Department of Public Health. This shows the importance of leveraging partnerships both on the government and private level, and working towards a common goal.

Overall, the session was very insightful and it provided a practical application of the life course approach and other behavior change theories often discussed during my classes.

Francine Wood is a second-year MPH student in the Department of Global Community Health and Behavioural Sciences concentrating in Maternal and Child Health. She plans to graduate in May 2017. Her interests include social and behaviour change communication, monitoring and evaluation, sexual and reproductive health, HIV and STIs.  She also loves travelling and immersing herself in new cultures, cooking and volunteering in her community.

 

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Entry filed under: Student posts. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

Diversity, early childhood, and context Health Equity in Maternal and Child Health

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