Advancing their commitment to provide resources to help Memphis and Shelby County children reach their full potential, The Urban Child Institute recently opened the first module of the Early Advantage Brain Awareness Exhibit at the Pink Palace Museum.
The interactive exhibition aims to equip parents and caregivers with information and tools that can be used and applied in daily life to encourage healthy brain development for babies ages zero to three.
Understanding how a child's brain receives and processes information is important to promote optimal growth and development, but learning about best practices to ensure that an infant reaches key milestones like crawling, walking, and talking can sometimes be a daunting task for new and expecting parents.
Working in partnership with the Center for Multimedia Arts at the University of Memphis, The Urban Child Institute wants to make the data and science on how to effectively promote healthy brain development in young children less complex and easier for parents to digest.
"To ensure your child is on the right track, parents must know what signs to watch for at different stages, but also understand how to use every opportunity to encourage the development of life skills that should be acquired during early childhood," said Katy Spurlock, Director of Education and Dissemination at The Urban Child Institute.
"There is a lot of data and research on how and why parenting activities such as touching, talking, reading and playing can help children develop skills like self-control, self-confidence, and critical thinking ability, and our goal is to make that information more readily available for parents by presenting it in a new and unique way."
Although scouring the pages of parenting books and/or attending parenting classes are still effective ways to gain knowledge, advances in technology have significantly changed the way that information is shared.
The Early Advantage Brain Awareness Exhibit is designed to make the learning process easier and more engaging for parents with a touch-screen kiosk display in this first module. Possibilities for future modules include audio/visual booths, flip books, and discovery towers that will offer visitors a "real-world feel" to deepen understanding of how a baby's brain functions and operates.
This first module – the interactive kiosk – attempts to demonstrate for parents why their actions matter, and it is a great way for new and expectant parents to gain insight and discover ways to encourage continued progress for their babies from birth to age three.
Research shows that the human brain grows to reach 80 percent of its adult size by the age of three. According to The Urban Child Institute, the early years are a very sensitive period for baby's vision, hearing and language development to occur and each day parents can work proactively to nurture ideal outcomes.
In coming months, The Urban Child Institute hopes to add new components to the exhibition and expand access to more community residents by having it displayed at various locations throughout the city.
The kiosk will remain on display though February 2014 at the Pink Palace Museum located at 3050 Central Ave. Museum hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays.
All parents and caregivers are welcome and encouraged to view the exhibit and to bring their children.
For more information, go to www.urbanchildinstitute.org
(The New Tri-State Defender has partnered with The Urban Child Institute to make sure every child has the best chance for optimal brain development during the critical first three years of each child's life. This is one in a series of stories and columns in our campaign.)