Brain Bags: ARC Gateway is part of the Early Learning City

What's in a Brain Bag?

As we move into the second half of the year, the Brain Bag project has begun to take hold.

The IMPACT Brain Bags are a step in the Studer Community Institute’s journey to improve the quality of life in the Pensacola area through early education and workforce development. It is a journey we couldn’t make without Arc Gateway’s Pollack Industries.

The Brain Bags include teaching points — developed from materials from SCI’s partners at the University of Chicago’s Thirty Million Words Initiative — to give new parents advice about how to work more words into their interactions with their babies at home.

Building a language rich environment is critical for young children, especially in the first three years of life. Research shows that 85 percent of the human brain is developed in the first three years. It is the time when the wiring of the brain is laid.

How strong that basic wiring influences the “achievement gap,” and impacts how a child will learn as he or she prepares for kindergarten and, studies suggest, has effects that linger throughout a child’s school life and adulthood.

The gap was outlined by University of Kansas researchers Betty Hart and Todd Risely, and found that children from lower-income families hears on average 30 million fewer words by age 3 than their peers from better-off families.

The Brain Bags feature a copy of the children’s book “P is for Pelican: The ABCs of Pensacola,” a baby book to help parents track brain development in the first three years, a rattle and a binder highlighting community resources that can help support moms and dads build healthy brains for their young ones.

The target population are the estimated 5,000 new mothers who deliver in the three major hospitals in Escambia County — Baptist, Sacred Heart and West Florida.

Jim Rhodes, project manager at Arc, and his team have been invaluable partners with SCI in this project.

The folks at Arc assemble, store and, now, are delivering the Brain Bags to the hospitals. This streamlines the logistics for the project making sure the hospitals are well-supplied with the bags they need to meet their demand.

Sacred Heart took their first ARC delivery this week. Since 1954, Arc has provided people with intellectual and developmental disabilities with programs and training to enrich their lives. But what they’re really doing is enriching our community.

Now, through the Brain Bags, Arc is investing in the future of the Pensacola metro area — one child and one set of parents at a time.