“Brain Building” at the Freedman Center: Interview with Ember Cook, 3rd yr Clinicial PsyD Student

I had the pleasure of interviewing Ember Cook, a 3rd year Clinical PsyD student, about some of the exciting things currently happening at the Freedman Center.  Any current or future students interested in working with new parents and/or young children will really enjoy reading this!

Best baby with mural

Q: What year and program are you in?

A: I am a third year student in the Clinical Psy-D program.

Q: What is your role at the Freedman Center?

A: I am the Coordinator/Facilitator of the Playtime program. Playtime is a free drop in support group where parents and caregivers bring their children up to age 4 to participate in a friendly, nurturing environment that promotes healthy development for both child, parent or caregiver.  Playtime features weekly themes, related parent/caregiver tips, and developmentally appropriate fun for children from birth to age 4. In my role I design curriculum and serve as a supportive mentor for the other facilitators as well as co-facilitate the groups weekly. Check us out at: http://www.mspp.edu/community/freedman-center/playtime.php

Q: What is the “Brain Building” initiative?

A: The Freedman Center is excited to be supporting the Brain Building in Progress campaign. It is a public/private partnership of the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care, United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley and a growing community of people and businesses who are dedicated to child development. The mission is to “raise awareness of the critical importance of fostering the cognitive, social and emotional development of young children by emphasizing its future impact on economic development and prosperity for everyone in Massachusetts”. Be sure to check out all the great information about this campaign at: http://www.brainbuildinginprogress.org

Q: What events is the Freedman Center holding to participate in “Brain Building?”

A: The Playtime program has incorporated the Brain Building framework into our curriculum throughout the year and for the entire month of April we are highlighting the principals in each weekly session.

Q: Who comes to these events?

A: Playtime is open to parents and caregivers and their children up to the age of 4. Playtime takes place on Thursdays and Fridays from 3-4:30pm. It’s a drop in format so there is no need to sign up prior to coming. SPACE IS LIMITED, however, and admittance is on a first-come, first-served basis with group capacity being 17 (no Playtime on April 18th and 19th due to spring break).

Q: Which event or events do you find most exciting and why?

A: I honestly get excited every week as the fun never stops! Each week there is a new theme, which includes opportunities to learn about supporting a child’s development and to be a part of mental health promotion for parents, caregivers and children.

Q: What does it mean to you to be a part of this program?

A: As a third year Psy-D student I am grateful for the opportunity to work with families and their young children. I have learned so much about supporting the healthy development of children and parents and how prevention strategies should influence mental health practice. The caregivers and children that attend Playtime are super cute and fun to boot! I couldn’t think of a better work study job!

Q: How can someone get involved with the Freedman Center?

A: If you are a student and want to learn how to be involved in our programs write to Margaret_Hannah@mspp.edu or Nadja_Reilly@mspp.edu. If you are interested in being a participant in any of the programming offered by the Freedman Center, including Playtime, check out our website at http://www.mspp.edu/community/freedman-center/index.php

Q: Do you have any advice for future students that are interested in working with new parents and young children?

A: Get involved with the Freedman Center!!! There are so many ways to be involved, whether it’s as a work study student, as a practicum student, or even as a volunteer. It was the best decision I ever made to apply to work here. My time with the Freedman Center, its staff, and the participants, not only has been some of the most exceptional learning experiences, but some of the richest and heartwarming as well. It’s consistently my favorite thing I do every week.

About Hannah

Hello, my name is Hannah and I am a 1st year student in the clinical PsyD program at MSPP. I graduated from Wesleyan University last year with my B.A. in Psychology. I am originally from a very small farm town in upstate NY. My personal interests include baking, running, hiking, and procrastinating my homework by watching cat and baby videos on YouTube.
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