Build a child’s brain on the train!

July 9, 2014

New Brain Building in Progress ad campaign with Mass Early Education & Care and the MBTA highlights the potential of everyday moments to be learning moments

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Today, United Way joined Patrick Administration officials to turn the MBTA’S Harvard Square Station into a “Brain Building Zone” to promote the power of engaging parent-child interactions in building children’s literacy through everyday routines.

As part of the event, the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC), in partnership with the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley (UWMBMV), officially unveiled its I am a Brain Builder ad which is being displayed on MBTA trains, to provide ideas for teachable moments between parents and children while they ride public transit.  This public awareness effort is part of the state’s “Brain Building in Progress” campaign, which is designed to communicate the critical importance of a child’s early brain development to their learning and the Commonwealth’s future prosperity. Secretary of Education Matthew Malone, Early Education and Care Commissioner Tom Weber, MBTA General Manager Dr. Beverly Scott, United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley Senior Vice President Peg Sprague joined with parents of young children at today’s event to serve as “Brain Building Ambassadors” by distributing materials about the campaign to commuters.  The MBTA’s mascot, Charlie, also welcomed commuters to the “Brain Building Zone”.

“For our students to be successful in the long-term we have to make sure learning doesn’t stop when they are not in school,” said Secretary Malone. “These brain building activities are a reminder to parents and care takers that we can turn every moment into a learning experience, whether it’s on the train, bus or walking through their communities.”

“The time parents and children spend together on the MBTA can be more than just getting from point A to point B,” said Dr. Scott. “Programs like this help both parents and children boost their bonding time and build their brainpower, all while on a train or bus.”

“All parents can support their children’s vocabulary acquisition and literacy development through enriching verbal dialogue,” said Commissioner Weber. “I thank the MBTA for being a great partner in helping to provide families with information and resources on how to be a brain builder on the MBTA and everywhere.”

“Research shows us that early experiences literally shape how the brain gets built, and that a strong foundation in the early years increases the probability of positive outcomes later in life,” said Michael Durkin, President of UWMBMV.  “United Way is proud to work with the Commonwealth on this campaign to engage families and spread the word that we can all be Brain Builders.”

The I am a Brain Builder ad and “Brain Building in Progress” campaign directs the public to an online hub of resources that are available support families and caregivers, including “Brain Building Zones” and a calendar of events that are searchable by community.  Specific to the I am a Brain Builder ad launch, the website includes brain building activities related to riding the MBTA, online at:

In concert with the launch of the I am a Brain Builder ad on the MBTA’s orange and red subway lines and bus routes, EEC and United Way will encourage families and the general public to learn more about brain development by sharing tips through #IAmABrainBuilder on Twitter and Facebook.  The Patrick Administration plans to continue developing interagency partnerships to further expand the awareness and reach of brain building resources throughout the Commonwealth.

Follow @SpeakUnited and @MassEarlyEdCare on Twitter, and Brain Building in Progress on Facebook for more Brain Building tips and activities, and share your own Brain Building moments using the tag #IAmABrainBuilder