The women of IMPACT 100 have been architects of Pensacola’s future since 2004.
Time and again, these women have invested in making Pensacola a better place to live, work and play — $100,000 at a time.
In 2016, they added the Studer Community Institute’s Brain Bag project to their investment portfolio. The early literacy gift bags are given to new parents before they leave the hospital. Baptist and West Florida hospitals began handing out the bags in April; Sacred Heart began handing them out in May.
The Brain Bags include a copy of the children’s book “P is for Pelican: The ABCs of Pensacola,” a baby book to help parents track development, a rattle and a binder highlighting community resources that can help support moms and dads in building healthy brains for their young ones.
Research shows that 85 percent of the human brain is developed in the first three years. The strength of those early brain connections impact 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.
Early language exposure is a key part of the “achievement gap,” outlined by researchers who found that children from lower-income families hear on average 30 million fewer words by age 3 than their peers from better-off families.
That gap is very real in Escambia County, where state education data tell us that nearly one-third of our children are not ready for kindergarten.
Our IMPACT grant put Brain Bags into the hands of some 3,838 new parents last year. Nurses at three hospitals have used those bags to teach patients that talking with a newborn is as important changing diapers and healthy feeding.
It has given agencies such as Healthy Start Coalition, Children’s Home Society and Early Steps, a valuable tool to help the moms they work with through home visits with the support and resources they need.
Our IMPACT grant gave legs to a collaboration that is bringing research from one of the nation’s premiere universities to Pensacola. Because of IMPACT’s support, the University of Chicago’s Thirty Million Words Initiative saw a whole community willing to invest in the future of its children — and joined us on that journey.
Our IMPACT grant is breathing life into the idea of an Early Learning City, with every child born into this community.
One family, one lesson, one life at a time.