Making the Science Have an Impact
To support health research, policy, and practice, the Alberta Family Wellness initiative shares scientific knowledge about early brain development and its effect on adult mental health. Sharing this knowledge successfully is a two-step process.
The scientific information we have about the effect of early childhood experiences on brain development and subsequently on adult health must be translated into a form that makes sense to a non-expert audience. Through the translation process, scientific concepts are explained in a consistent, accessible narrative framework known as the Brain Story. The FrameWorks Institute and the National Scientific Council of the Developing Child developed this narrative. Each “chapter” of the brain story was tested with thousands of subjects in the U.S. to ensure that audiences were comprehending scientific concepts with a high degree of clarity and fidelity. Later, on behalf of the AFWI, the FrameWorks Institute tested this narrative with Albertans to verify salience for this audience.
Once scientific knowledge becomes a story, it can be disseminated to a broad cross-boundary audience, where it becomes a common foundation and language for a range of personal, professional, and policy-related decisions. The brain story is central to all the work the AFWI does, from events, resources, and tools to curriculum development and media outreach.
Events and Activities
Not only did the AFWI’s Symposia program educate and motivate selected Change Agents to spread knowledge and stimulate innovative thinking about brain science, policy, and practice, it helped to remove barriers between sectors and establish a strong cross-disciplinary network of relationships between scientists, experts, and practitioners.
The AFWI supports ongoing events to support change in Alberta and beyond. One such activity is the the Brain Architecture Game, a tabletop group experience that teaches players about the role experiences play in brain development and health.
Developed in 2009 by AFWI partner organizations, the Brain Architecture Game has been played by thousands of people around the world. Participants report a much better understanding of the complex process of brain development after playing this engaging game.
The AFWI has formed partnerships with experts and institutions across North America to develop educational tools and training programs. These programs help professionals in science, policy, and practice, as well as stakeholder groups, to enhance their skills and increase their competencies.
An online course educating professionals on the science behind the core story of brain development is under development and will be launching soon.
Through its website and other media, including video content and a print magazine, the AFWI disseminates brain story research and learning tools to the scientific community, professionals, policy makers, and all Albertans.