9/5/19 Declared Bridgeport for Babies Day

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Bridgeport Basics Noted for Promoting Early Brain Development of Children from Birth to Three


BRIDGEPORT, CT (Sept. 5, 2019). Bridgeport Prospers/United Way was recognized for its initiative to improve the health of young children at the City of Bridgeport’s “Bridgeport for Babies Day.”  The initiative­­ – The Bridgeport Basics is a parent education campaign designed to promote healthy brain development of children by encouraging nurturing, responsive interactions with children from birth to three years.  The City declared “Bridgeport for Babies Day” to highlight its commitment to maternal and infant health and call attention to partner initiatives working toward the same goal.

“Our mission is to promote and protect the health of Bridgeport residents, and that means focusing on women’s and children’s health issues,” commented Maritza Bond, Director of Health and Social Services for the City.  “Community partners are integral to our success, and we want to recognize the efforts of those working to improve the health of mothers and children such as Bridgeport Prospers,” Bond added.

Improving the well-being of mothers and children is a growing need in the United States, which now ranks last among industrialized nations for maternal mortality.  Importantly, the cognitive and physical development of infants and children is influenced by the health of their mothers during pregnancy and early childhood.  Further, children reared in safe and nurturing families are more likely to have better outcomes as adults, according to the Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University.

“The Bridgeport Basics campaign provides tools for caregivers to create nurturing, brain-building interactions with young children,” noted Allison Logan, Executive Director of the United Way.  “The first three years is a critical time, when eighty percent of brain growth happens.  A child’s experiences during this time lay the foundation for all future development, learning, and behavior.” 

The Basics are five caregiver practices that build a young child’s emotional health, physical health, and skills in early language, literacy and math.  The practices – such as “Maximize Love, Manage Stress” and “Talk, Sing and Point” – sound simple, but they have serious credentials.  They were developed from the work of the Harvard Achievement Gap Initiative, which found that the academic Achievement Gap – the developmental skill gaps by race, ethnicity, and socio-economic status – shows up in the national data by the age of 18 months. 



“At Bridgeport Prospers/United Way, we aim to improve outcomes from children from cradle to career.  That means starting early, before the Achievement Gap can open,” commented Logan.  Currently, only 30% of Bridgeport children meet benchmarks for kindergarten readiness.

The Basics campaign is being rolled out with the help of 25 community partners, ranging from the medical community (Bridgeport Hospital, Optimus Health Care, Southwest Community Health), to early education providers (YMCA, ABCD, All Our Kin), to non-profits, libraries, and schools.  “In this way, parents can learn about the Basics in places they know from people they trust,” added Logan.  To help build awareness, Basics ads will run on local buses, billboards, and social media.

The Bridgeport Basics is one of several Bridgeport Prospers/United Way initiatives aimed to improve the healthy development of children pre-natal to three.  These include caregiver supports such as a mobile parenting app and early literacy programs; early identification of at-risk children; early interventions for maternal mental health; and a community resilience initiative to increase trauma-informed practices throughout the city.   “We are working with partners in all sectors to improve maternal and infant wellness,” Allison Logan noted. 

Bridgeport Prospers/United Way joined the City of Bridgeport, Bridgeport Hospital, and People’s United Bank in the “Bridgeport for Babies Day” celebration.  “We are committed to working with our community partners to improve people’s lives,” commented Merle Berke-Schlessel, United Way President & CEO.  And we could not do this work without the generous support of philanthropic funders like People’s United Bank, one of our largest donors.  “Working together, we can ensure that all children in Coastal Fairfield County are prepared for success in school and in life.”

Bridgeport Prospers is a collective impact movement devoted to changing outcomes for all children, from cradle to career. It is a member of StriveTogether, a national nonprofit working to bring communities together around data to make decisions and improve results for kids. Bridgeport Prospers is an initiative of the United Way of Coastal Fairfield County, a leading catalyst for social change. 



Bridgeport Prospers

Bridgeport Prospers mission is to work collectively as a community of stakeholders to have a positive, measureable, and sustainable impact on outcomes for all children and families, from cradle to career.  We focus on a set of seven common outcomes, from healthy and ready at three and kindergarten readiness, to high school graduation and career readiness.   The initiative receives backbone support from the United Way of Coastal Fairfield County.  Find out more at http://www.unitedwaycfc.org/bridgeportprospers.


United Way of Coastal Fairfield County

United Way of Coastal Fairfield County’s mission is:  “Together, we mobilize our communities to improve people’s lives.”  Our vision is that all children in Coastal Fairfield County are successful in school and prepared for success in life.  UWCFC serves the towns of Bridgeport, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport, and Wilton.  Find out more at http://www.unitedwaycfc.org.





StriveTogether is a national movement with a clear purpose:  help every child succeed in school and in life from cradle to career, regardless of race, zip code or circumstance.  In partnership with nearly 70 communities across the country, StriveTogether provides resources, best practices and processes to give every child every chance for success.  The StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network reaches 10.5 million students, involves 10,800 organizations and has partners in 30 states and Washington D.C.