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Wrap your mind around this – Brain Awareness Night

All this month, thoughts of warmer temperatures, daylight savings, and outdoor activities due to the onset of the long-awaited spring season will fill the minds of many.

by Tarrin McGhee
Special to Tri-State Defender

(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.)

All this month, thoughts of warmer temperatures, daylight savings, and outdoor activities due to the onset of the long-awaited spring season will fill the minds of many.

Did you know that there is a national observance devoted specifically to exploring how this mind-shift and thought pattern, among others, evolves?

Around the world, Brain Awareness Month is observed in March to increase understanding of how the brain works, and to explore advancements in the fields of neuroscience and biomedical research.

If you are not a scientist, medical professional or educator, chances are you do not devote much time to learning about the structure and or functions of the nervous system. However, no matter your profession, it is important to understand the role that the human brain plays in one’s behavioral and cognitive development.

In the Greater Memphis area, The Urban Child Institute is leading the charge to keep local residents informed, and advocates for public policies to combat challenges that can negatively impact early childhood brain development.

To celebrate Brain Awareness Month, The Urban Child Institute will host Brain Awareness Night on March 22 in partnership with the University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s Neuroscience Institute and Department of Preventive Medicine’s CANDLE (conditions affecting neurocognitive development and learning in early childhood) study.

The public event will feature leading experts who will share knowledge and insights into the study of the brain, and explore new initiatives and tools that have been developed to optimize brain development in young children.

Confirmed speakers include Dr. Daniel Goldowitz Ph.D., professor, Medical Genetics and the Centre of Medicine and Therapeutics at the University of British Columbia, and Dr. Clyde Hertzman, M.D., director, Human Learning Partnership at the University of British Columbia.

 Dr. Goldowitz will discuss how early experiences and environmental influences impact brain structure and functionality in a presentation entitled “The Malleable Brain: In Good Times and Bad.”

Dr. Hertzman’s presentation – “A New Method for Measuring Social and Cognitive Development Leads to New Initiatives for Child Development” – will focus on a new tool that he has developed to provide information on physical, social-emotional, and language-cognitive development of children across populations as it relates to school readiness.

Brain Awareness Night will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at The Urban Child Institute located at 600 Jefferson Ave, in downtown Memphis. Guests will have an opportunity to interact with speakers and enjoy refreshments at a reception starting at 5:30 p.m. before presentations from Goldowitz and Hertzman begin at 6:30 p.m.

An open invitation to attend the event has been extended to anyone in the Mid-South area who would like to learn more about how early brain development shapes the foundation for learning through childhood and adulthood.

Seating is limited and advance registration is highly encouraged. To RSVP, contact Susan Day at 901-385-4242 or email sday@theurbanchild ­institute.org.

NOTE: The Urban Child Institute is one of several organizations that participates in the annual worldwide celebration of Brain Awareness Week, which takes place this year from March 12 – March 18th.  Numerous activities have been held this week in partnership with the Neighborhood Christian Center to educate parents, teachers, and community residents about early childhood brain development. To view the full schedule of Brain Awareness events taking place this month, visit www.theurbanchildinstitute.org.


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