The brain, one of the only organs not fully developed at birth, experiences 90% of its development before age eight. The 2000 days between birth and the start of kindergarten is the focus of a new resource, released by The North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation, for congregations that would like to help each child to reach his or her full potential. The Faith Community and Early Childhood: Engaging Your Congregation is a downloadable report containing ideas for actions that places of worship can take to promote childhood health. “Children’s earliest experiences literally determine how their brains are wired; lay the groundwork for future health; and form the foundation of the social and emotional skills needed for academic and workplace success.”
We have an opportunity as a faith community to impact the health of children by speaking out in support of evidence-based practices that lead to optimal brain development. Breastfeeding, reading to our children, and providing nutritious foods and exercise throughout childhood are examples of activities that this new resource can help us to promote within our congregations and in our communities. The North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation developed this report in response to faith summits hosted across the state by NC Partnership for Children. These summits brought together faith leaders, community leaders, and early childcare experts to discuss the “critical role places of worship play in building a strong foundation for learning and health for North Carolina’s youngest citizens.” There is a growing recognition in North Carolina, and throughout the country, that faith communities have a powerful impact in all aspects of our lives. Our spiritual, physical, emotional and mental health are all connected and served by our faith. This new resource for engaging our congregations in the health of our children can be downloaded here or at www.buildthefoundation.org (resources and tools, first 2000 days).
The Breastfeeding Collaborative is a project of the Partners in Health and Wholeness initiative within the North Carolina Council of Churches. Learn more at the PHW website.