Brain development tool has shocking results for Edmonton children
On Sept. 9, the City Centre Early Years Coalition held a meeting of potential partners at the Norwood Child and Family Resource Centre. The coalition is one of seven in Edmonton, based on geographic boundaries. It is also in dire need of help from the community to establish a strong base that will help children in the first five years of development.
Deborah Fehr, who represents the Alberta Resource Centre for Quality Enhancement (ARCQE), and who is helping organize the coalition in the Norwood community, described its mandate: “To help inform people of the importance of the early years for optimum development for children, in order for all children to reach their adult potential.” The coalition focuses on child development from birth to five years, since research shows that these are the most critical for brain development; they shape a child’s future development and learning potential.
The Early Development Instrument (EDI) research tool collected data about child development in Canada and around the world. According to the EDI website, the tool “measures children’s ability to meet age appropriate developmental expectations.”
The EDI results for Edmonton—especially for city centre—show that children are well below the average across Canada. That means children between ages one and five are missing the opportunity to build important pathways in the brain for future development and learning capacity. The resulting deficit will profoundly, and most likely negatively, affect their adult lives.
The City Centre Coalition sees an urgent need to improve early brain development for children across the city, and particularly in the RCP communities.
“How do we put a voice onto early years development?” asks Kathy Burgett, coalition chair. “Knowledge has been underground. We haven’t educated the public.”
The City Centre Coalition is the least active of all seven in Edmonton because it has struggled to build a strong foundation. Except for the last four years, there has been little financial support from the provincial government. From 2015 to 2019, it received unprecedented support. Burgett hopes that support will continue, but the future is uncertain. It is a critical moment in establishing a strong base for early childhood education.
Right now, Burgett points out that membership is the coalition’s biggest struggle. The short-term goal is to establish a core membership that will be mobilized to spread the word and implement long-term strategies.
Delroy Parr, who attended the meeting, says, “It is encouraging that science is backing up what we’ve known for a long time. We need to systematize early childhood education and educate parents about how to teach children.”
The coalition invites your support and engagement in preparing children for future success. “We’re in this together, to make a difference for our children,” says Burgett.
Contact the City Centre Coalition to learn how you or your organization can become involved and become part of an important solution.
CITY CENTRE COALITION
Kathy Burgett, chair
NORWOOD CHILD AND FAMILY RESOURCE CENTRE
9516 114 Ave
Featured Image: The early years of one to five years old are crucial for brain development. | Pixabay