OpinionThrive by Five25 Oct 2019

App offers kids a bright future

A baby’s brain is a remarkable little creature, forming more than a million neural connections every second when activated.

Highgate Playgroup, Perth for Telethon. Photo Credit: Stewart Allen.

Blowing raspberries on a baby’s tummy or singing This Little Piggy while playing with a toddler’s toes may seem like second nature to most parents or carers.

Our mums and dads did it when we were little and, now, we share that same bonding experience with our own kids and grandkids.

But while we may think nothing of it, these innocent games and interactions are scientifically proven to be extraordinarily meaningful when it comes to the development of a child’s brain.

It is these moments that are at the heart of a ground-breaking new app developed by CoLab – Collaborate for Kids (a partnership between the Minderoo Foundation and Telethon Kids Institute).

The Bright Tomorrows app – launched this week ahead of Telethon – utilises the latest research from experts around the globe on how to build children’s life skills and puts that research directly into the palms of parents and carers.

Part of the reason we’ve developed this app is because parents told us they were looking for information they could trust but also information that is tailored for them and practical.

Google is helpful but with the overwhelming amount of information out there it’s hard to know who to trust or what works.

The Bright Tomorrows app removes the guesswork and delivers practical ideas based in science and backed by the early childhood experts at the Telethon Kids Institute, Vroom, the Raising Children’s Network and Better Beginnings.

Video via Today Tonight

What’s more, technology allows the app to create a family profile which tailors tips to the age, interests and needs of the child, empowering parents and other adults to transform everyday moments into opportunities that facilitate a child’s brain growth.

This is vitally important as scientific evidence shows the building blocks of a person’s mental and physical wellbeing starts in the womb.

Indeed, 90 per cent of a person’s brain growth has occurred by the age of five.

With that in mind, we must ensure those formative years are jam-packed with interactive and positive experiences, so the child grows to be a productive, healthy and happy member of society.

The app features a familiar face – Bobbie – a remarkable little blue creature that represents a baby’s brain, showing how the brain actively responds to meaningful moments.

Many West Australians will remember Bobbie from last year’s Telethon and this year he’s back, bigger and better than ever.

In the app, Bobbie champions more than 1000 ideas for families to try new ways to introduce brain building moments into everyday activities, like helping their child learn numeracy skills while going shopping.

The tips also provide families with a brief scientific explanation of why these activities are helpful to brain development in the app’s Brainy Background section.

With so much brain expansion happening in the early years of life, this period presents a wonderful window to build essential skills like language, emotions and routines. I encourage all parents, grandparents, carers and other adults who interact with young children to download the app.

Not only will you find a legion of fun ways to spend time with the children in your life, but you will also provide them with the strongest possible foundation to grow.

The Bright Tomorrows app is free to download now from the App Store or Google Play.

This article appeared in The West Australian on 25th October, 2019. The video appeared on Today Tonight on 24th October, 2019.

You can find out more about the Bright Tomorrows app on the website.

Please note that as of 11 December 2020, the CoLab brand was retired.

Nicola Forrest,  AO BA
by Nicola Forrest, AO BA

Nicola is the convenor of the Prime Minister’s Community Business Partnership, a member of the Telethon Kids Institute CoLab Advisory Council, the Valuing Children Initiative Advisory Board, and Governor of the Forrest Research Foundation. Nicola is Chair of the Black Swan State Theatre Company, a board member of the Early Years Initiative and was inducted into the WA Women’s Hall of Fame. Nicola is patron of the Kimberley Foundation Australia and Impact100 WA and is a life governor of Sculpture by the Sea.

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