February 12, 2015

Burlington Tedx Ed Brings Together Teachers, Parents, Advocates for Young People

Posted in Events, Lund Early Childhood Program (LECP), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services tagged , , , , , , , , , at 4:39 pm by Lund

“Because everyone knows that it’s not OK to take food from the fridge and use your  body to smear it all over the floor, right?” Asked Gail Rafferty during her recent TED talk at the Burlington TEDx Ed put on by Building Bright Futures and Let’s Grow Kids.  Gail, a Parent-Child Interaction Therapy Coordinator at Howard Center in Burlington, was recounting a moment from her children’s early years when her inattention and distraction led to an extremely joyful session of ‘yogurt skiing’ while her back was turned.  Her talk titled, “Parenting: A Completely Natural and Improbable Undertaking” spoke about the need for all parents to connect to each other, to support each other and to have help in parenting so that moments of inadvisable food use become happy memories and not triggers for anger and regretful snap decisions.

Gail’s was one of 8 TED talks from local educators, consultants, and medical professionals all themed around growing up. Hosted and emceed by Jane Lindholm, the talks took us from the power of play to basic brain development to parenting advice.  All were sprinkled with compassion, humor and genuine amazement at the power and limitless potential of children.  Some were more scientific and presented hard data about brain development and the current pattern of investment in educational systems and some used rubber chicken feet.  Lisa Guerrero of ‘Serious About Play’ waved them provocatively at the audience trying to find out who had lost their play instinct and who was ready to dive right in and allow themselves to remember and revel in the power of play.  And some of the talks called a little upon on the magic of childhood.  Tracey Girdich, an interventionist in the Early Childhood Program of the Child, Youth and Family Services division of Howard Center, described how she entices children into connection, social thinking, early literacy and therapeutic play by telling stories with fairies who come out of her sparkly story box.

The stage at Main Street Landing with a fleet of bikes, a sure symbol of growing up.

The stage at Main Street Landing with a fleet of bikes, a sure symbol of growing up.

All of these ideas, theory and scientific insight was translated into practical advice that anyone who spends time with children could take away and apply.  Read, tell stories often, model the behavior you want to see, listen, play without inhibition.  Mark Redmond, Director of Spectrum Youth and Family Services made this concrete in his talk entitled, “What Advice Would you Give a Room Full of Parents?”  There was a furious shuffle of note taking as Mark gave  insights from his own parenting journey and his work as Director of an Organization that works with young people battling homelessness and substance abuse.  His bulleted list of advice can be boiled down to this – be there, love unabashedly, and hold kids accountable.

With conversation and opinion sharing well facilitated by Jane, a welcome musical break from A2VT with their irrepressible hit ‘Winooski My Town’ and several videos of talks from the National TED stage, the day was filled with the vibrant exchange of information and inspiration.  The talks were filmed by RETN and will be added to the TED website in March so they can be shared widely and enjoyed by those who couldn’t get tickets to this sell out event.

Now since I have finished putting up a picture of Jackie Robinson (share stories of inspirational people with children) while enjoying yet another viewing of ‘Winooski My Town’ on Youtube (connect with people from different cultures and embrace community), I think I might go and see if the Preschoolers want to do some yogurt skiing…

Jackie loves yogurt

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