Taking Back Our Neighborhoods: Urban Child Institute

By Ursula Madden - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Non-profit agencies working to Take Back Our Neighborhoods rely heavily on information to determine where the need is greatest.  When it comes to the state of children in Memphis and Shelby County, no one has more data than the Urban Child Institute, an organization trying to Take Back Our Neighborhoods one child at a time.

When her baby was born, Shantina Austin said, she needed a little coaching.  Austin received that coaching through early childhood programs developed by the Neighborhood Christian Center.  President and CEO Ephie Johnson says such programs could not have been developed without a strong partnership with the Urban Child Institute.

"The Urban Child Institute has opened our eyes and has been a guiding light and a consistent companion with us," Johnson said. "Our organizations main focus is to promote early brain development from conception until three years old."

Kenya Bradshaw is with The Urban Child Institute, which collects data every year on the state of children in Memphis and Shelby County.  That data is then used to educate parents on the best practices, to give babies a healthy start.

"You should be reading to your baby...talking to your baby," Bradshaw said. "You should be playing with your baby."

Austin says the techniques felt a little strange at first, but now she gets it.

"They actually learn," she said. "Even though they're young, they might just look at you like they don't know what you're talking about, but they really do learn, and some things they will react back."

You can help the Urban Child Institute with its research by participating in the TUCI 5K Trot sponsored by Strategic Financial Partners.  The race is Saturday August 1 at 8:00am at 795 Ridge Lake Blvd.

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