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Building a Vibrant Community – Early Brain Development

Transforming Elkins into a place where we all want to live, work, play, and stay is a very lofty goal. By creating the Vibrant Task Forces, we’ve broken it down into smaller chunks that can be tackled more easily by many people.

Our task force is focusing on Early Childhood Brain Development. What do babies’ brains have to do with building a vibrant community? Glad you asked! If you’ve ever built a concrete block wall, you know that it’s critical to get that first course just right. If you do, the rest is much easier.

The science is clear that most brain development occurs in the first three years of life. If we can help parents in those early years, our kids will have an easier time in school and a better chance at success in life – whatever path they choose. All of Randolph County will benefit from a more engaged workforce, less crime and stronger communities.

Our schools are critical to that process, and schools work better when our children are socially, emotionally, and academically ready for Kindergarten. Valerie Bright and Whitney Phillips are leading our Hospital-based Programs sub-group. Their group of volunteers is working with Davis Medical Center to assist new parents with their baby’s brain development. Dolly Parton’s “Imagination Library” and the “Reach Out and Read” programs are very popular and are having an impact right now.

A child’s developing brain loves new experiences. More connections are made in baby’s brains than at any other time in their life. Stimulation of all the senses leads to new connections that enhance brain activity. Karrah Washington, Rachel Anger, and Heather Biola are heading up our Community-based Programs sub-group. Volunteers in that group are coordinating with other Elkins groups to create places and spaces that will have a positive impact on our kids.

Talk is easy, but results are what matter. Our task force will set specific goals to improve Kindergarten readiness. We will continue to share those goals as well as the efforts we’re making to reach them. We’ll communicate our progress, and we’ll adjust if what we’re doing isn’t working. If we can help parents lay a solid and level first course, the foundation will be stronger. Will this lead to a more vibrant community? Time will tell. But we owe it to our children to try.

This article follows the concepts outline in a book entitled “Building a Vibrant Community” written by Quint Studer. Compliments of Tygart Valley Orthopedics, the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber has free copies of the book available to those who are interested.

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