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Macleod can help shape early child development

Dr. Robbin Gibb, an associate professor in the department of neuroscience at the University of Lethbridge, will make a presentation on the impact of positive experiences on child development.

Fort Macleod community leaders are urged to invest some time Thursday, Nov. 15 in a presentation about the importance of positive experiences in development of a young child’s brain.
Time spent at the presentation at 6 p.m. at W.A. Day school by Dr. Robbin Gibb, an associate professor in the department of neuroscience at the University of Lethbridge, will pay dividends for the community.
“Knowledge is power,” said Kathy Karchuk, director of the Fort Macleod Early Child Development Coalition. “When you know, you can do. This is just another way of increasing our understanding of our children.”
Gibb, a leading expert in early brain development in children aged five years and under, will talk about the impact of a children’s early experiences on the brain’s architecture.
Knowing more about how children’s brains develop will help Fort Macleod put in place the support children and parents need.
That investment now will help produce productive, involved citizens who will eventually lead the town.
“She (Gibb) used an analogy when she was explaining this to me of building a house and a foundation,” Karchuk said. “If the foundation is weak everything that happens afterward will be faulty.”
Research indicates that less than five per cent of Canadian babies are born with any developmental limits.
By the time they reach school age, 25 per cent of children have lagged behind in either physical, social, language or cognitive development.
“We have to get it right the first time,” Karchuk said. “The big question is how. All the research is pointing to community support for families. When families are supported, children are supported.
Families look to communities for such essentials as employment, housing, green spaces, playgrounds, safe schools and recreation programs.
“We’ve all heard it takes a village to raise a child,” Karchuk said. “Now I’ve heard it said it takes a child to raise a village. Because when children are supported they become healthy, contributing members of society.”
“So, healthy children, healthy communities.”
A child’s early skills have to be strong to provide the foundation for development.
“This strong brain architecture is enhanced by caring relationships with adults,” Karchuk said. “That increases our chances of a healthy life. A strong foundation equals health and a weak foundation equals risk.”
That’s where the community comes in, from child care workers to teachers, and from business owners to leaders of community clubs. Those are the people who are urged to attend Gibb’s presentation.
“Everyone who is interested in children,” Karchuk said of the target audience. “Everyone who sees that connection to children being the backbone of our economic prosperity and the health of our communities.”
The session is hosted by the Fort Macleod Early Children Development Coalition, which is raising awareness of the importance of a child’s early years.
“It’s kind of our launch,” Karchuk said. “We’re a new group. We’re just getting started.”
At a presentation in January Gibb will discuss brain growth in children aged six to 12 years.
“We’re still finding out so many things about our brains,” Karchuk said. “This new knowledge about brain research is being applied and practiced in child care, in education and in the judicial system.”

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