MRU to host symposium on children’s well-being
Event features speakers, presentations and child development lab opening
by Laura Lushington
Children are the future.
It’s a somewhat simple statement that most of us have heard in our lifetime.
However, as Mount Royal presents its final part of The Legacy of Ideas speaker series, it is hoped the statement will leave us with a commitment to ensuring the well-being of children in Alberta and around the world.
On Oct. 26 and 27, Mount Royal will play host to the International Children’s Well-Being Symposium, a conference focusing on early brain development and the dedication of high-profile people such as Raffi (of Baby Beluga fame) to kids.
“Mount Royal has had a really long history of engaging with children over its 100 years,” said Dawne Clark, director at the Centre for Child Well-Being at MRU. “In fact, children were some of the first students on campus through the music conservatory. So this is a celebration to finish off Mount Royal’s centennial and look to the future.”
Clark said the first day of the symposium will look at the importance of the first five years of a child’s life in terms of brain development and how that brain development determines the entire life trajectory of that child.
Dr. André Corriveau, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, will present his report “Let’s talk about the early years,” and discuss the status of child well-being in the province.
“That’s going to be a call to action from the participants,” Clark said. “Both in terms of their organizations and themselves as individuals in their commitment to Alberta’s children.”
Also speaking on the first day are Dr. Dan Goldowitz, an expert on the development of the nervous system; Dr. Gabor Mate, who has researched the impact of environments and relationships on children; and Lynell Anderson, who will talk about society’s economic well-being.
The second day of the symposium will feature Craig Kielburger, founder of Free The Children; Samantha Nutt, founder of War Child Canada; Karu Gamage, who works to help children in Sri Lanka; and Raffi Cavoukian, well-known children’s singer and founder of the Centre for Child Honouring.
In addition to the speakers, the symposium will serve as the official opening of Mount Royal’s child development lab where students will be able to learn and engage with children, as well as undertake research projects.
The new children’s mental health certificate and a timeline – “The Changing Faces of Children and Youth at Mount Royal,” produced by the alumni of child and youth studies – will also be launched.
Lara Unsworth, centennial strategist at MRU, said members of the Calgary Police Service, Alberta Health Services, social agencies and educators will be attending the conference.
The audience will sit at round tables for the two days to be able to develop creative solutions to children’s well-being.
“Stimulating thought, discussion and open conversation is what Mount Royal is all about,” Unsworth said.
She added that some speakers will be staying for the whole symposium and speaking with attendees.
“We’re actually having everyone leave having made a commitment to kids in someway,” Unsworth said.
“That can be reading to their grandkids or it could be financial or it could be volunteering time,” she said. “Whatever they want, we just want them to leave feeling empowered to do something.”
“It’s really about the future of our society and I think we’ll find it really fascinating.”
For more information on the symposium or to purchase tickets visit http://www.mtroyal.ca/100/idea100.htm