The Importance of Early Childhood
By: Steve Ames
While running River Arts in 2007 – and in the middle of the renovation of the Lamoille Grange – now the River Arts Center – I had a chance to visit the Southeast State Correctional Facility in Windsor. The jail has a maximum-security section and a section for inmates with mental health issues. It was a profound day – I wish we all had a chance to do that. Then a couple weeks later, I heard Howard Dean talk about working with pregnant and mothering teens in Harlem. It was like a light bulb moment for me as I realized that early childhood is the time to make progress in so many issues in our communities. It was after these experiences that I began to move River Arts programming more towards young kids, and with Kati Furs, started Open Gym and My First Camp…
Since then it has only become more clear how critical the first few years of our lives are in determining our health and well being for the rest of our lives. In fact, in the first three years of our lives, 80% of our brain development takes place. 700 synapses are created every second in a two year old! WOW. And the most significant way to foster great brain development in babies is for them to have stable positive relationships with the adults in their lives.
So I’m delighted these days to be working with Building Bright Futures and working with early childhood issues in the Lamoille Valley area and across the State – even a little at the national level. And, I’m looking forward to sharing our work with our community on this blog.
As the Regional Coordinator for Building Bright Futures, Steve staffs The Lamoille Valley Building Bright Futures Regional Council, a volunteer committee focused on the well being of young children and their families. There is one such Council in each of twelve regions of the State. Steve also works with the Playroom in Morrisville. He writes about early childhood, families, community, play, and equity.