October 30, 2003
For immediate release
Third Annual Children’s Think Tank Highlights Healthy Child Development
Health and Social Services
“It is encouraging to know that so many people are working together to improve outcomes for Island children,” said Health and Social Services Minister Chester Gillan. “This demonstrates a high level of community cohesion and leads to benefits for both children and families.”
In the morning, a presentation on indicators demonstrated that Prince Edward Island children have a low incidence of childhood vaccine-preventable diseases, a consistently low incidence of low-birth weight babies (weighing under 2,500 grams at birth), and that breast feeding rates are improving. “It is encouraging that indicators point to the areas where improvements have been achieved,” added Minister Gillan.
The afternoon presentation focussed on Roots of Empathy, a program where elementary students learn about healthy child development, based on monthly visits to the classroom by a parent and infant from the school neighbourhood. By observing and discussing the infant’s development, the children learn about infant safety, positive parenting and the prevention of outcomes such as Shaken Baby Syndrome, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and the exposure of children to second-hand smoke. Education Minister Mildred Dover advised that the Children’s Think Tank provides an excellent opportunity for schools to engage others in successful school-based programs which promote healthy child development. “The Roots of Empathy program helps young children to understand the feelings of other people and empathize with them. By helping children to develop respectful and caring relationships at a very young age, this program attempts to reduce bullying and aggression, and improve the parenting capacity of the next generation,” said Minister Dover. “The program has a proven track record across Canada and around the world. Our aim is to eventually make it accessible to children in elementary schools throughout the Island.”
“The Annual Think Tank brings together a variety of people who have a great amount of knowledge, skills and expertise relating to children and children’s issues,” said Premier's Council on Healthy Child Development Chair, David Harper. “One of the greatest benefits of the Think Tank is that we have the chance to meet and to learn from others with an interest in children.”
The Children’s Think Tank is hosted by the Premier’s Council on Healthy Child Development. The council consists of individual Islanders from across PEI who advise the Premier on children’s issues and monitors the implementation of the Healthy Child Development Strategy.
“This annual Think Tank is a great opportunity for participants to learn about new child-related research and to share ideas on how to promote healthy child development,” said Minister Gillan. “I commend the Premier’s Council on Healthy Child Development for their efforts as they continue with this government and community partnership.”