The Journey Institute, a pediatric behavioral health agency, has been working collaboratively with community partners across the states in raising awareness into the critical needs of babies in communities across Florida.
The Executive Director, Dr. Harleen Hutchinson, believes that the incredible potential that lies within every child rests on their early experiences, which shape the architecture of young minds and influence their lifelong well-being. She intentionally advocates for pro-baby agenda across various systems of care to ensure that systems are centering the needs of babies in funding, policy, education, and behavioral health treatment, to change the trajectory of babies to ensure that every baby has a good start in life.
Recently, the Journey Institute, in collaboration with The Florida Association for Infant Mental Health, hosted their campaign, "Building Strong Brains" during Celebrate Babies Week to honor and celebrate professionals across the states who work with or on behalf of babies. It was an amazing event with cross-system leaders talking about their work, and echoing the needs of centering babies in our work. In doing so, Dr. Hutchinson honored community champions who are making a difference. The honorees were Commissioner Melissa Dunn, Lauderhill Commissioner, who focuses on caregivers in her community who is presenting with high ACES (Adverse Childhood Experiences), Madeline Thakur, statewide Early Learning Leader, from the Children's movement, who advocates for policy changes at the Capitol, Dr. Tameka Maxwell, Lauderhill Pediatrician, who infuse reading in her practice with babies, and caregivers by ensuring that every baby who she sees gets a book to read to, Colonel Josefa Benjamin, whose visionary work led to the integration of parenting class for pregnant moms in the Broward County Jail. Lastly, Judge Hope Bristol, Broward County, Early Childhood Court, was recognized for the amazing work that she is doing in her circuit, in ensuring that every baby gets an opportunity to change the trajectory of their life through participation in her trauma informed court for birth to five.
Unfortunately, Judge Bristol was not able to attend, but it was important that she was acknowledged for the work she is doing in our state. This event is hosted annually to raise awareness in creating ripples of change, that resonate across generations, shaping a healthier community and a thriving Florida economy for babies.
Here are highlights from the events:
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