Our children are the future for our society, community, and planet, and we need to put our focus on them. Our four speakers this month discussed how we need to give children opportunities to bring their full selves to learning, to create community, build confidence, and increase coping and resilience.
First up, Sharon Hirsch from Prevent Child Abuse NC taught us about positive childhood experiences. She talked about how important it is to have supportive relationships that can build a stronger community. According to Sharon, “Children are exposed to traumatic experiences too frequently in our culture. It’s deeply concerning when we think how it changes how their brains and bodies develop.” We can prevent child abuse by strengthening econcomic support for families, investing in high quality childcare, and connecting youth to adults in mentor programs. Check out her talk to learn the details of how we can take action today! Sharon left us with this important thought – “We must prevent child abuse because what happens in childhood lasts a lifetime.”
Next, William Jackson from Village of Wisdom brought a powerful subject on protecting Black genius to the virtual stage. William started with an example of dead fish in a lake. If we saw this, most of us would assume there’s a problem with the water. However, “when we think about Black children learning in schools, we blame the child or family instead of seeing how the water that they’re in [the school] contributes to their lack of performance”. Children learn by connecting new information to prior knowledge and motivation is needed to connect the two. Since “Black children are often denied bringing their full selves to the classroom,” such as correction of their speech, their hair, their dress, and separation of community, they’re unable to access their prior knowledge and bring together the necessary parts of learning. Watch his talk here to find out some of the ways for us to protect Black genius, such as racial affirmation, relevant social justice issues, and a can-do attitude, and learn why it’s never been a better time to protect Black genius.
Our third speaker, Gab Smith from CAM Raleigh, spoke about confidence! CAM has many after-school programs on building confidence in youth because “if you’re confident in your ideas, what else can you do?” Gab shared her seven tools for being confident, which included posture, eye contact, smile with your heart, tone of voice, listening, being a team player, and embracing silence. Watch the video for the specifics on what each of these tools mean and how we can put them into practice with our children.
Our last speaker of the month was Dr. Diana Fishbein from the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, speaking on science advocacy. As a child, she decided that she wanted to find a career where she could study the basis for individual differences in similar environments, and help make sure children didn’t have to experience pain. As she puts it, “We need to represent the underrepresented communities so their voices can be heard.” Dr. Fishbein talked about the importance of science in policy, and making sure that we don’t just make changes school to school, but we go to the policy level to “embed strategies [for our children] to increase coping, social skills, and resilience, instead of having a zero tolerance policy which can actually worsen the problem.” Head here to learn more about how she got into this field, and why she says that bringing these problems to the policy level is so important.