On April 30th, 2019 to celebrate Public Health month, the Healthy Development Initiative along with the UMass Amherst Center for Community Health Equity Research (CCHER), the Springfield Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences held a community forum on health equity and human development research projects. Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris provided the welcome for the event, which was held at the UMass Center in Springfield.
The Healthy Development Initiative kicked off the forum with a tour and demonstration of the new NIRS brain monitor and described a current study that is looking at the brain development of preschoolers. Other presentations focused on bringing the topics of brain science and psychology to middle school science classes, and a prenatal intervention for low-income parents in order to reduce stress, increase knowledge about birth and infant development, and provide co-parenting training.
Researchers from the UMass Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences also contributed to the forum including: MOCHA Men of Color Health Awareness, a program focused on sharing stories, building bonds, and reducing stress-related illnesses for men of color; a presentation on recent data of at-risk populations for gambling in Massachusetts; and the F.A.S.T study, which observes the peer-influenced behaviors of youth surrounding screen time, diet, obesity, and physical activity.