Much has changed in the world since I was a child.
My amazing dad tells me he ran for miles behind my bike when I was about 7 or 8 years old before I learned how to balance enough to ride with no training wheels.
Today, a balance bike made it possible for my son to jump on a pedal bike, bigger than he was, before he was 3 1/2 years old and pedal right off with no training wheels.
Stopping, of course, was another issue. But no matter the 15 minutes it took him to learn to stop, I know my dad would have appreciated this brilliant invention.
Back when I was a kid we knew very little about brain development. Now every day there is more and more being learned pertaining to the impact environment has on brain development, even at the prenatal stage.
Some of the information is pretty elementary. Like, a child that does not have access to healthy food and clean water not only gets sick more but has a harder time keeping up in school, especially if the child’s mom didn’t have access to these things when she was pregnant.
It’s intuitive, it makes sense. But what about the less obvious stuff?
In a book called Born to Learn: Language, Reading and the Brain of the Child by Dr. Patricia Kuhl, the author points out,
“Infants code and remember the patterns they hear – before they speak their first words, before they understand any words. The brain is at work in early development analyzing language.”
In Mozart’s Brain and the Fighter Pilot, Dr. Richard Restak tells us,
“Included among the components of cognition are alertness, concentration, perceptual speed, learning, memory, problem solving, creativity and mental endurance. Each of these components of cognition has two things in common.
“First, each is dependent on how well our brain is functioning. Second, each can be improved by our own efforts.”
There are so many studies on the brain and so much can be confusing. But one thing is certain – our brains are amazing and what happens when we are young impacts our futures exponentially.
My heart aches for all the little ones that don’t have what they need. Their brains are living on the fumes of poverty.
Their moms didn’t have enough to eat when they were pregnant, let alone the nutrition they needed. The caregivers in their families are vulnerable, living in abusive and dangerous environments and many are still children themselves, unable to take care of themselves let alone others.
The environments these babies are growing up in train what brain they have to believe so many lies that it’s a miracle if they can and want to pay attention in school — if their families can scrape together the resources to send them.
I’m grateful today that God allows me to work with Him to protect these vulnerable lives through the Child Survival Program.
I love that local churches are making sure pregnant moms get the medical attention, nutrition and support they need, including access to a trained attendant during child birth.
I love knowing that God is using me and a local church not only to save these babies and make sure their brains have a chance to develop more fully, but to love these children’s families and impact the actual environment they are growing up in. It’s like adding more love, every day, in these baby’s lives.
I couldn’t ask for a better, more impactful place to give and I’m excited for the future. I know this world will have more, healthy, brilliant adults because we are taking care of them as babies!