Brain Awareness Week Initiatives 2016 – Beautiful reports from UCC
Event No. 1: “Tús Maith Leath na hOibre”:
UCC Neuroscientists promote healthy brain aging in local primary schools
During Brain Awareness Week, a group of UCC neuroscientists engaged children from five local primary schools (Glounthaune, Greenmount, Glasheen Girls, Glasheen Boys and St Finbarres) in fun activities to promote the importance of brain health during childhood. With the cooperation and enthusiasm of teachers in the participating classes, children eagerly joined in the activities which focused on positive lifestyle choices for brain health. They carried out brain safety ‘egg drop’ and ‘jelly brain’ experiments, prepared healthy ‘brain food plates’, played memory games, danced and exercised to ‘activate their neurons’, enjoyed a ‘brain food’ blueberry snack and relaxed by having a ‘brain break’.
Information sessions in each of the schools were also held for parents to emphasise the importance of early intervention in order to prevent cognitive and mental health issues in later years. Lifestyle habits that affect the developing brain including diet, exercise, sleep, mental stimulation, stress resilience, social interaction and safety were discussed. The feedback from teachers and parents was overwhelmingly positive and schools have suggested that it would be extremely beneficial if more children could be targeted.
The team members of UCC’s Healthy Brain Aging initiative for children are Caitriona Long-Smith, Cara Hueston, Shane Hegarty, Aideen Sullivan and Yvonne Nolan from the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience, and Janas Harrington from the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health.
Funding was provided by Federation of European Neuroscience in partnership with the DANA Foundation. Blueberry snacks were sponsored by Supervalu.
Brain Awareness Week is the global campaign to increase public awareness of the progress and benefits of brain research (http://www.dana.org/BAW/).
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Event No.2. Brain Awareness Meeting
Our event involved a one-day seminar that provided an opportunity for members of the general public of Cork city to engage with professionals involved in neuroscience research, mental health services and charities, who together support patients and families affected by mental illness, brain tumours, brain injury and dementia. The meeting provided a platform where attendees learned about a wide range of topics discussed in a friendly atmosphere. Amongst the broad range of brain related themes discussed, were issues such as “De-stigmatising mental illness”, “Cognitive and emotional Consequences of head injury”, “Biomarkers for stress resilience”, “Support provided by charities”, “Brain health in ageing”, “Dementia care and treatments” and “Supporting brain research in Ireland”.
Dr. Barry Boland
Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Room 2.48, Western Gateway Building, University College Cork, Co. Cork, Ireland