Before we are even born, our brain is already developing; preparing for the pivotal, first few years of life that quite literally shape our future.
Ninety percent of a child’s brain is already fully developed by the early age of 5. A vital component in a child’s development is the incorporation of serve and return interaction; the responsive relationships between children and their parents, caregivers, and community. Lack of these interactions and relationships can be detrimental to the brain’s architecture, causing learning and behavioral challenges.
Today, there are nearly 5 million children under age 5 living in poverty in the United States. Most of these kids don’t have access to high-quality education.
For the past 37 years, the Ounce of Prevention Fund (the Ounce) has committed to help break the cycle of poverty by providing equal access to educational opportunities to all children.
“An ounce of prevention beats a pound of intervention,” said playwright and actor Anna Deavere Smith at the Ounce Annual Luncheon, depicting the urgency of the Ounce’s work. Held April 10 at the Hilton Chicago, 850 Chicago area leaders gathered to support the organization’s mission in providing education and care to at-risk children from birth to age 5.
Leading fundraising efforts, luncheon chair Tom Gimbel inspired attendees to increase their giving for our young ones. “It’s up to us to make sure everyone, every child has those same opportunities to reach their full potential.” Within the first hour, the ballroom raised $75,000. By the end, a collective $1.3 million was raised for the Ounce’s early childhood education programs.
Through the sneak peak of a new documentary featuring Educare Chicago, the Ounce’s network of schools, guests saw first-hand the extraordinary impact of educating our youth.“Tomorrow’s Hope” follows three of the school’s first graduates, one of which was a keynote speaker, 19-year-old Jamal Poindexter.
Ounce Board Chair Curt Bailey and Ounce President Diana Rauner joined in addressing the audience of early childhood supporters and leaders. “Having the opportunity to learn, live safely, and form healthy relationships in supportive homes and in communities should be an ordinary part of every child’s life,” Rauner said. “The reality, however, is that for families living with persistent poverty, extraordinary efforts are required to make the ordinary possible.”
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Emily Stone is Associate Editor at Make It Better. She earned a degree in journalism from Elon University in North Carolina. Along with writing, Stone has a passion for digital storytelling and photography. Her work is published in Chicago Athlete Magazine. Stone is a supporter of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Stone is a fluent Spanish speaker who in her free time loves a good dance class.