The DHR Division of Public Health provides the funding for the program. The GSU Schoolof Nursing coordinates the training. And the March of Dimes provides technical help.Statewide sponsors include the DHR Family Health Branch, Georgia Chapter of the Marchof Dimes Birth Defects Foundation, Universityof Georgia College of Family andConsumer Sciences, Georgia StateUniversity School ofNursing, GPCCF and The Family Connection. People say kids are getting smarter all the time. A group of state public healthleaders intends to make sure that’s true.Starting in October, key public health agencies, universities and others will begin astatewide training program called “Better Brains for Babies: Maximizing Georgia’sBrain Power.”The planners are banking on the latest research on early brain development. Thefindings show that babies’ first three years of life greatly affect how they function formany years afterwards.”Governor Miller called attention to this research when he distributed classicalmusic CDs to parents of newborn children in Georgia,” said Brian Ziegler, statedirector and national adviser for the March of Dimes Georgia Chapter.”We’re taking the next step,” Ziegler said. “We will train communityleaders so they can pass the information on to parents and anyone who cares for smallchildren. We want everyone to know what babies need to help their brains develop.”The first groups of professionals and advocates will attend trainings in Tifton Oct. 6,Macon Oct. 7 and Athens Oct. 9. Child-care providers, licensing staff, parents, fosterparents and others will have similar training.The “Making Change for Children” Summit in Atlanta Oct. 15-16 will kick offthe statewide program. Community leaders there will meet trainers, learn about theresearch and arrange presentations in their communities.”Babies’ brains develop fast before age three,” said Dr. Kathleen E. Toomey,director of the GeorgiaDepartment of Human Resources Division of Public Health. “Unlike other organs,the brain acquires much of its capacity after birth, by extending and connecting billionsof neurons.”Toomey said it’s vital to “do everything we can to see that infants are stimulatedat this critical age.”The trainings will help policy makers, too, said Dr. William Sexson of the Georgia PolicyCouncil for Children and Families.”In the past, we’ve paid a lot of attention to school-age children,” Sexsonsaid. “But we haven’t addressed children’s needs in their first three years. Now wecan make better decisions to help families prepare their children to meet the social andeducational challenges of our society.”What can parents do? Here are some tips. Get good prenatal care. Pregnant women should eat a healthy diet, avoid alcohol and other drugs and have regular prenatal checkups. Breast milk provides the ideal nutritional balance. If you don’t breast-feed, give your baby an iron-fortified infant formula. And always hold her when you feed her. Create a safe environment. Are your baby’s surroundings clean? Are there dangers such as sharp objects or things that could choke him? Does he always ride in a car safety seat? Talk to your baby. Make eye contact. Smile. Play rhyming games. Read aloud. As she gets older, ask questions and explain things to her. Find quality child care. Look for care-givers who provide a safe environment and enriching new experiences. Play rich, complex music. Sing songs. Let your child try musical instruments. Limit television. Children need to interact with real, live people. Take care of yourself. Stressed parents tend to stress their babies. So take some time for yourself. Find people who can support you as a parent. Get the information you need. Ask your pediatrician. Your child-care provider or librarian can suggest good books on child development. And the county Extension Service office can give you more information on parenting.
Brian Harwood of Waterbury, has been elected chair of the board of directors of Vermont Public Television (VPT), Vermont’s statewide public television network. One of the state’s best-known radio personalities and a Vermont Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame member, he is morning host on WCVT Classic Vermont. He was formerly chair and CEO of hmc2 advertising in Stowe. Since his retirement from the firm, he serves as chair emeritus.Harwood succeeds James Wyant of Pointe Claire, Que., who continues on the VPT board as past chair.Pamela Mackenzie of S. Burlington, Vt., was elected vice chair. She is the area vice president for Comcast in Vermont and western Massachusetts.Source: VPT 7.2.2010