By Kallie Crawford
Companies and organizations need all kinds of minds to find success. That was the message Dr. Temple Grandin delivered to the packed Howard Auditorium in December.
Grandin, a professor of animal science at Colorado State University and a well-known spokesperson on autism, helped celebrate the kickoff for Louisiana Tech University’s Education and Research in Children’s Health (ENRICH) Center.
Grandin spent much of her career using her experience as an autistic person to help ensure the humane treatment of cattle. The author of a New York Times Best Seller focused on helping individuals not be defined by the label of a disability.
“Concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you from doing well,” said Grandin, quoting Stephen Hawking.
Children should have hands-on experience and build things, Grandin said. Thinking skills improve with exposure to art, sewing, cooking, learning an instrument, and anything causing children to visualize and do something.
“Children prefer real activities compared to pretend,” Grandin said. “People need to touch in order to perceive.”
The ENRICH Center conducts research, education, and outreach designed to improve children’s health.
ENRICH programs include:
• We Inspire Smart Eating (WISE)
• Bulldog Book Club (BBC)
• Bulldog Book Club: Babies (BBC: Babies)
Currently, the state of Louisiana is ranked near the bottom of lists rating children’s health status. In addition, 18 percent of Louisiana’s preschool children are obese. The WISE program is designed to change that while promoting healthy eating for younger kids.
Teachers are trained to encourage healthy eating in their students, and they engage in hands-on experiences with students that reinforces the need for fresh fruits and vegetables. There are now 30 classrooms in Louisiana using this program, according to Dr. Julie Rutledge, director of the ENRICH Center.
In order to encourage early literacy, BBC gives preschool-age children one book a month along with a flyer relating to the theme of the book. In the last five years, the BBC has delivered 35,000 books to preschoolers and their families in Lincoln Parish.
Their newest upcoming program, BBC: Babies, is a lot like BBC except it targets infants instead of preschoolers. Anyone who delivers a baby in a local hospital will be sent home with a BBC: Babies Kit. The kit includes 12 developmentally appropriate books and parent flyers that relate to the theme of each book. Rutledge said ENRICH hopes to deliver over 600 kits in the first year.
To learn more about the ENRICH Center, visit latechenrich.weebly.com