Education

Brain Bags: Changing the community one child at a time

Kiera Smith-Crosby and her daughter, Joh’Nysia. Credit: Reggie Dogan.

Two weeks after Mother’s Day, Kiera Smith-Crosby received one of the best gifts a woman can get: a newborn baby she named Joh’Nysia.

To her surprise, another gift was in store: A Brain Bag from Studer Community Institute. The literacy tool kit is given to every birth mother in Pensacola’s three hospitals through an IMPACT 100 grant awarded to the Studer Community Institute to enhance brain development in babies and toddlers.

Sacred Heart Hospital nurses presented the Brain Bag and explained how to use the materials in early learning kit.

Smith-Crosby, 24, said she regularly reads the “P is for Pelican: The ABCs of Pensacola” to her children. She also uses the SCI “Baby Steps” book for tips and to track her baby’s developmental milestones.

“I didn’t know a lot of stuff about how much a child takes in as an infant,” said Smith-Crosby, 24. “Having the Brain Bag has helped me learn better ways to talk to my baby.”

Joh’Nysia was one of 285 babies born at Sacred Heart in May, who got a Brain Bag. All of those children, as well as children born at Baptist and West Florida hospitals, got similar lessons in the importance of talking and interacting early and often with their new babies.

The journey that our community is on to become an Early Learning City is starting with them. One family at a time.

It is a long road, but it is one we as a community must be committed to walking with Joh’Nysia and her family. Her mother now is committed to that path with her daughter.

And that’s how we build a brain, build a life and build a community.