When it comes to raising their children, what parent has never asked him- or herself,
“Am I doing this right?” A new pilot program at PCOM called “Water Your Child’s Brain”
aims to help parents answer that question and countless others by providing the skills
and social network to support effective brain development in their children.
The program, run by PCOM’s Robert Berger Pediatrics Society, consists of four sessions,
each focused on a different topic— from managing their children’s behavior, to making
good nutritional choices, to helping their children learn more effectively. Each week,
parents participate in an informational session—led by a DO or psychology student—and
learn evidence-based strategies related to that week’s topic. At the same time, their
children participate in an activity that mirrors that topic.
Rosemary Vickers, DO, associate professor and chair, pediatrics, and a physician with City Line Pediatrics
(PCOM’s pediatric medicine practice), found that many of the parents showed a need
for these types of skills and brought it to the attention of Sarah Allen, PhD, assistant
professor, psychology, who specializes in pediatric brain development and education.
At the same time, Dr. Allen was approached by Dana Neumann (DO ’18) and Nicole Ferrigno
(DO ’18) about unique opportunities to which they could apply their medical skills.
Dr. Allen thought a program like “Water Your Child’s Brain” could address all those
needs through collaboration of the DO and psychology programs.
“Before we started the project, we conducted a survey with parents from the pediatric
practice to find out what they were most interested in learning about,” said Ms. Neumann,
the program’s co-founder. “They all wanted to learn more about the best ways to help
their children, but many don’t have the means to access similar programs. We offer
this for free, so we’re trying to address that barrier.”
Ms. Neumann, Ms. Ferrigno and Dr. Allen meet regularly to determine what topics to
cover, and what evidence-based strategies they can present to parents that can also
be turned into a kid-friendly learning activity.
At a recent session, parents learned about the regulation of emotion and attachment,
and their effects on a child’s brain. Their children participated in an exercise in
which they thought of an emotion, showed it with facial expressions, and others tried
to guess the emotion being expressed. They then came together to learn yoga using
specially designed mats.
The first block of sessions recently ended, and parents said they found the program
to be helpful when interacting with their children. Participant Kewon Scott said her
daughter’s teacher sent her a report noting an improvement in her grades and behavior.
“[That] makes me very happy,” she said. “It's also improving our relationship." The
Pediatrics Society and Dr. Allen are currently working to launch the second block,
when they hope to begin collecting hard data on the program’s effectiveness.
In addition to helping parents their children, the program also benefits the PCOM
students who participate, says Dr. Allen. “It's both interdisciplinary and community-oriented,
which is what I love about it. I really think that's PCOM's niche—the ability to quickly
combine students in classes or educational activities like this. It's a lot of work
and a lot of fun, and they get to quickly see the benefit of a collaborative approach
to health care.”
Funds for transportation, food, supplies and other supplies for participants was provided
by a donation from the Hans and Dolores Levy Charitable Foundation The program leaders
wish to acknowledge the help of Budd Cohen, director of dining services at PCOM; DO
students Abby Kushner (DO '18) and Mary LaCoursiere (DO '18); school psychology students
Julia Barta (PsyD '21) and Jessica Corrigan (PsyD '21); and the many volunteers who helped drive the program forward.
About Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
Founded in 1899, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) has trained thousands
of highly competent, caring physicians, health practitioners and behavioral scientists
who practice a “whole person” approach to care—treating people, not just symptoms.
PCOM operates three campuses (PCOM, PCOM Georgia and PCOM South Georgia) and offers doctoral degrees in clinical psychology, educational psychology, osteopathic
medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy and school psychology, and graduate degrees in
applied behavior analysis, applied positive psychology, biomedical sciences, forensic
medicine, medical laboratory science, mental health counseling, non profit leadership
and population health management, organizational development and leadership, physician
assistant studies, school psychology, and public health management and administration.
PCOM students learn the importance of health promotion, research, education and service
to the community. Through its community-based Healthcare Centers, PCOM provides care
to medically underserved populations. For more information, visit pcom.edu or call 215-871-6100.
For more information, contact: Daniel McCunney Associate Director, News and Media Relations Email: email@example.com Office: 215-871-6304 | Cell: