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Hands to Hearts International
"Nurturing Children ~ Empowering Women"
After 10 years working in children's mental health, I saw that the worst common denominator for a child's health and overall well-being were based on a lack of a consistent and nurturing parenting/care. In 2004, I founded Hands to Hearts International (HHI) to reach children in their earliest and most critical time of development. HHI was designed to empower caregivers with knowledge and the simple daily actions that nurture their relationship with their baby, building trust, safety and security while forwarding language, cognitive, social-emotional and physical development to give their baby the best start possible for a lifetime of success and health.
Thanks for learning more about our work. I worked for 10 years in children's mental health and from that founded HHI on the premise of building the bond between baby-parent, and thus preventing Attachment Disorder. So, our entire program is steeped in the simple, yet critical idea of "love the baby" and it is woven into every lesson, domain of development and aspect that HHI shares. While knowing about all of the domains of development, and what happens when, and how to promote it, I remain committed to the belief that the quality of the relationship (baby-caregiver) is the most important thing we can build/support and that ripples into everything else, like you mention how they talk to the baby, feed them, respond when they are sick, help them learn to roll over and then walk - on and on!
From the feedback we have from the field, an estimate is that at least 70% of our trainees share the training with others, and those who lead Mothers' Groups as a part of their work (India's day care workers, Anganwadi workers) use it in their groups. However, to date, we haven't been able to formally measure or track this.
I know there is strong evidence for the power of massage, particularly for baby massage, and the positive effects it has on both baby and mother. I haven't delved into this research in quite some time, so please feel free to share anything you come across. It all goes back to how to build/support the early bonding, and loving, gentle touch is such an easy and effective way to accomplish so much for the relationship and for a host of other benefits. Please do feel free to share our massage video far and wide, it is subtitled in 24 languages exactly for that reason!
I'd love to see HHI be available here in the US, I think it could be a complementary (lower level, yet far less expensive and thus widely available) partner to programs like Nurse Family Partnership. If you see some ways we could collaborate and support your work in NYC - please let me know.
Warmest wishes, happy new year and thanks for your active participation in all of this! Laura
Great idea and great work! I'm curious if the local community health workers play a role in your project? In my experience, they are trusted community resources and if they had access to your messages, the distribution would be reinforced and supplemented.
I've seen first hand the negative effects of poor early nutrition, for both mother and infant, and I applaud your work to remedy this. I have 2 questions about your project. First, is there a component/educational piece for the mothers to learn about the importance of their own nutrition during pregnancy? And, second, there is heaps of research on the increased effectiveness of early nutritional interventions when they also include an educational component on responsive feeding. I see that your project is aiming to cover a lot, would this piece be a part of your approach?