I had the pleasure of attending this morning’s panel called “Shared Challenges, Shared Opportunities: How Countries Can Proactively Align Early Education to Promote Childhood and Family Health and Nutrition.” I had anticipated a traditional panel lecture in which moderator Dr. Sherri Killins, Former Commissioner of the MA Department of Early Education and Care, would pose thought provoking questions and expert panelists would respond in turn with equally thought provoking answers. However, the 1.5 hour session was so much more meaningful than that – serving more as an interactive discussion between the moderator, panelists and conference attendees. In the end, the wisdom of everyone in the room – representing an array of practice areas and cultural experiences – showed the power of interdisciplinary and intercultural collaboration. The panel truly lived up to the title of this conference, helping me to define a global challenge and identify an opportunity to meet it.
Here is one of my main takeaways from the session:
Juilette Tuakli, Professor, Child and Reproductive Health University of Ghana, Legon, delivered a powerful message about the potential for the arts to improve childhood health, particularly in Ghana. People across all economic statuses, geographical locations, genders, etc. gather for the arts. As such, the arts can be a powerful vehicle to transport information to communities around childhood health and development. As one attendee commented “if you teach a child a song, they will remember that song forever.”
How can we begin to make sure those songs and other forms of mass art carry the important messages around health and education that can save the lives of children? That is a question I will continue to consider in my work with children and families as an MSW student well after the conference ends.
About the Author: Julie Bolduc is a graduate student at Boston College Graduate School of Social Work. She previously served as a Massachusetts state lobbyist at Charles Group Consulting, representing nonprofit organizations, associations and groups whose public policy and budget priorities serve the public good. As the Director of Grassroots Advocacy for Horizons for Homeless Children, Julie developed and launched “the Campaign for Young Homeless Children” in 2011. She began her career as an associate at the Dewey Square Group’s Washington DC and Boston offices, managing grassroots campaigns. She currently works in Wheelock College’s Office of Government & External Affairs.