Lecture series focuses on healthy youngstersA series of lectures beginning Feb. 12 will delve into the early development of children. The sessions, entitled “The Wellness and Safety of our Children,” offer an encompassing approach to serving children and putting them on the path to success, said Judi Walker, a former Douglas County public health nurse.
By: Superior Telegram, Superior Telegram
A series of lectures beginning Feb. 12 will delve into the early development of children. The sessions, entitled “The Wellness and Safety of our Children,” offer an encompassing approach to serving children and putting them on the path to success, said Judi Walker, a former Douglas County public health nurse.
The topics build on each other and offer information on how to give young children the best start possible, said organizer Michele Hughes with University of Wisconsin-Superior continuing education/extension.
“There are plenty of kids who slip through the cracks and by the time they go to school, aren’t really prepared,” said Hughes, who worked as a public health nurse for 23 years. “We want to change this by bringing in some experts, both from Madison and locally who can give us the tools that we need for identification.”
The lectures were originally intended for Head Start teachers. But the sessions applied to a host of professions — up-and-coming educators, nurses, social workers, bus drivers, teacher aids and others who work with high-risk kids — so they were opened up to the community.
“We’re just trying to get people to come, listen and be part of the discussion,” said Walker, a member of the Family Empowerment Network/North, which is presenting the series.
“Every child deserves the best we can offer,” Hughes said.
The Feb. 12 session will focus on keeping children healthy before they’re born. Doctor Ildi Martonffy, an assistant professor of family medicine at UW-Madison, works with high-risk pregnant women to help break down barriers to promote a healthy pregnancy and bonding with their child. She will examine the effects of fetal alcohol syndrome and the stress a baby experiences in utero as well as interventions that can be used to help children become more resilient.
Nutrition will take center stage during the Feb. 19 session. Nutritionist and director of the local Women Infant and Children (WIC) nutrition program Mary Mahan will discuss how what a child eats impacts their future. She will discuss improving women’s prenatal diet, the benefits of breast feeding and how to feed a toddler and preschooler to maximize health and promote good dental practices. A healthy child, Hughes said, is a better learner.
On Feb. 26, a celebrity comes to town. Professor Dave Riley with UW-Madison extension will discuss how high quality early childhood programs can have life-changing impacts on children from low-income households. Riley is the author of the “Parenting the First Year” parenting education program, which has reached almost half of new parents in Wisconsin as well as parents in 12 other states and two other countries since 1992.
“He’s famous, really,” Walker said.
People in occupations that serve young children are in a position to really help, according to organizers. Hughes was recently approached by two women who remembered the help she gave them as a public health nurse. One thanked her for coming out to weigh her child, now a freshman in high school. Another was grateful that Hughes made a special effort to get her child a needed vaccine.
“You don’t realize the impact, the difference you make,” Hughes said.
The sessions run from 4:30-6 p.m. each night in the first floor lecture hall of the new Swenson Hall building on the UWS campus. Cost for the lecture series is $15 per session or $40 for all three, and includes a light supper. Funding help is available for those who want to attend but can’t afford it. Organizations or other people who would like to set up exhibits during the sessions are also being sought.
Registration is required in advance so organizers know how much food to prepare, Hughes said. People can register online at uwsuper.edu/health or by calling Donna at 715-394-8170 or 800-370-9882.