Recent research into
understanding how children’s earlyexperiences lay the foundation for braindevelopment and health throughout lifeis just the beginning.
To make this new knowledge cometo life, a network of experts is workingwith Alberta health–care providers,academics, government and Albertans tohelp them understand what it means tothem and their communities.
At the centre of this network is the
Alberta Family Wellness Initiative
(AFWI). The AFWI’s activities are based
on three concepts:
• The connection between early
childhood brain development and
future addictions and other mental
• The knowledge that people can
be addicted to behaviours such as
working, sex and eating, not just
alcohol, drugs and gambling
• The fact that the human brain can
The AFWI is also working to close thegap between scientific knowledge aboutaddiction as a brain disease and currentpolicy and practice.
To this end, it partnered with theAlberta government and Alberta HealthServices to host two symposia a yearfrom 2010 to 2012: one called Early Brainand Biological Development and the
other Recovery from Addiction. Thesymposia promote greater awarenessof current scientific research and whatit means to government policy andhealth–care delivery. They are attendedby diverse experts and stakeholders,from researchers to health practitionersto policy makers. For example, morethan half the 100–plus participants inthe annual Recovery from Addictionsymposium are AHS employees whotake what they learn at the symposiumand weave it into their programs andservices.
The AFWI’s other major partnersinclude the universities of Alberta,Calgary and Lethbridge, the Association