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Social Innovation

Our Social Innovation Division is committed to collaborating with communities to identify and implement effective solutions to improve health outcomes in central and southern Illinois. We use a variety of research tools to help communities document issues as well as evaluate change efforts. We respect the unique contexts, settings, cultures and resources of our different communities, and we believe authentic change happens when community members and leaders work together.

The Social Innovation Division works across typical boundaries to connect with hospitals, schools, businesses, nonprofits and government agencies. Current projects include:

 

Understanding the Culture of Rural Parenting and Brain Development

Between conception and age three, a child’s brain undergoes an impressive amount of change.  The brain doubles in size in its first year, and by three, it reaches 80% of its adult volume.  Despite increasing knowledge of this critical time in development, no formal institution exists that routinely educates all children between 0-3.  Therefore, the molding of a developing brain is dependent on the engagement and interactions of a parent or parents.  Most parents, however, especially those in the lowest socioeconomic or educational quartiles are not exposed to how simple strategies can maximize their baby’s brain development.  This is particularly true in rural impoverished areas where higher than national average teen pregnancy rates and lack of access to pediatricians makes parental education and skill building on developmental outcomes exceedingly rare. Read More

Building a Baby Brain Friendly Hospital - Hillsboro, Illinois

Between conception and age three, a child's brain undergoes an impressive amount of change. The brain doubles in size in its first year, and by three, it reaches 80% of its adult volume. Despite increading knowledge of this critical time in development, no formal institution exists that routinely educates all children between 0-3. Therefore, the molding of a developing brain is dependent on the engagement and interactions of a parent or parents. Most parents, however, especially those in the lowest socioeconomic or educational quartiles are not exposed to how simple strategies can maximize their baby’s brain development. Read More

Innovation Incubators for Building Wellness and Resilience in Rural and Urban Schools

Childhood trauma can have a direct, immediate, and potentially hazardous impact on the ability of a child to develop and learn.  Defined as a response to a negative event or series of events which surpass a child’s ordinary coping skills, trauma comes in many forms including maltreatment, witnessing violence, or loss of a loved one.  These events, collectively referred to as adverse childhood experiences, can interfere with brain development, learning, and behavior – each potentially impacting academic success and health outcomes. Read More