By Kenny Sui-Fung Yim
Children at the ABCD Chinese Church Head Start had an extra packed schedule on March 26 for the Brain Building Community Fair. Parents gathered literature and free goodies for their young ones, including toothbrushes, picture books and small replicas of the brain.
Throughout the morning, parents heard from a range of speakers. Abby Shapiro of United Way Mass explained the importance of building brains early, because research shows the first three years of development are crucial to future success in life. Parents can encourage young children by reading, talking, looking into their child’s eyes, smiling, and even taking the T and pointing out signs.
A representative from Jump Start, Jody Baldiga, demonstrated how reading can be interesting and fun with a picture book called “Dog’s Colorful Day.”
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh made an appearance to stress the importance of nutrition, which is part of his initiative to bring better food to families as early as possible. He made good on his campaign promise to provide equal access to healthy and nutritious meals. Walsh put on an apron and helped make banana-pineapple bread, using a recipe provided by, Ingrid, one of the Head Start mothers. According to the chefs, the recipe can be adapted for all cultures by adding different fruits.
Walsh and city councilor-at-large Michelle Wu received a framed cut-out of a red horse, as well as a book of student artwork.
The event was capped off by demonstrations of how to make play-dough and other simple art projects by Helen Schroeder, Zumba by Vanessa Wilson-Howard and tai chi by Annie Liu.
The event was co-sponsored by South End Lower Roxbury Children Thrive. Community groups at the event included the Tufts University Department of Public Health, ABCD Health Department, Jump Start, Read Boston, United South End Settlement, Federal Small Business Administration, Urban College of Boston, Multilingual Action Council, Neighborhood Health Plan, Boston Children’s Museum, Children’s Hospital/Injury Prevention Specialist, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Tufts Medical Center.