Blackpool first in line for new child development project

Graham Lang, Rolanda Olver and Kaylie Kay take part in the Brain Game
Graham Lang, Rolanda Olver and Kaylie Kay take part in the Brain Game
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Families in Blackpool have become the first in the country to try out a pioneering new education project to help parents understand the importance of healthy brain development.

The project, which is organised by Blackpool Council’s NSPCC-led ‘Better Start’ partnership, invites parents to take part in ‘the Brain Game’ to learn more about how they can help their children develop into health, well-rounded adults.

The game aims to highlight how different external factors can affect the ‘strength’ of a child’s brain.

Merle Davies, Director of the Centre of Early Child Development at Blackpool Better Start, said: “Parents were challenged to ‘build’ their child’s brain with cards.

“If they got a ‘positive’ card they were given good foundations to build with and if they got a ‘toxic’ card they got weak ones.

“Then we hung weights representing the child’s responsibilities on the ‘brains’ and saw how well a strong brain held up, while a ‘weak’ brain bent out of shape.

“We wanted to show how every action from a parent, nurse, social worker or member of the public can have a huge impact on the way that children deal with life.”

The Brain Game was developed by child development experts at the Frameworks Institute in North America and the Palix Foundation in Canada, and has been used all over the world as way of encouraging parents to ‘build their children’s brains’.

The project launched in the resort on Monday and will continue until Friday at Claremont, Grange Park, Mereside, Revoe, St Cuthbert’s, Thames and Talbot & Brunswick children’s centres.

Ms Davies said: “We all have a responsibility to ensure our children and parents are supported in their development. That’s why we’re working with the local community to build an understanding of how important it is to interact with young children at the earliest possible age.

“Better Start is working to make sure that all children in Blackpool get the best start in life, it is important that in the early years we build the strong foundations which enable our children to grow and develop into healthy adulthood.

“To be successful, we need to get everybody in the town on board with just what healthy child development looks like and what we can all do to help it.”

The project is supported by the parent-led organisation Community Voice, which

Dave Bannister, chairman of Community Voice, said: “The way we think about it is as if the child’s brain is a construction project. You have to have strong foundations if you want to build a good house, just like you have to give children the right foundations.

“If we can give our children positive ‘stress’, we can teach them how to communicate better and interact with the world around them.”

Young mum Rolanda Oliver, 27, from Blackpool, attended the event at Claremont Children’s Centre on Westminster Road, which saw members of Blackpool Better Start talking with parents about their children’s learning.

She said: “I think it’s a brilliant idea and I would definitely encourage other parents to come along.

“As a parent you are always rooting for your child and want the best for them so it’s good to be able to learn more about their development.”

People who are interested in finding out more about the Brain Gam and how to get involved are asked to visit www.blackpoolbetterstart.org.uk.