Setting kids up for success – The Mary J. Wright Research and Education Centre at Merrymount

By: Gerry Rucchin
Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Dr. Karen Bax, Director of the Mary J. Wright Research and Education Centre, explains the Centre’s work to Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Jean-Yves Duclos, Mayor Matt Brown and Member of Parliament for London North Centre Peter Fragiskatos. Here, Mayor Brown, left, and Member of Parliament Fragiskatos, foreground, listen to Bax’s description.

Dr. Karen Bax, Director of the Mary J. Wright Research and Education Centre, explains the Centre’s work to Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Jean-Yves Duclos, Mayor Matt Brown and Member of Parliament for London North Centre Peter Fragiskatos. Here, Mayor Brown, left, and Member of Parliament Fragiskatos, foreground, listen to Bax’s description.

Federal Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Jean-Yves Duclos, saw first-hand the importance the Mary J. Wright Research and Education Centre at Merrymount has in setting up kids for success.

The minister visited the Mary J. Wright Centre while at the same time coming to see the wonderful work that the Merrymount Family Support and Crisis Centre is doing in London, Ontario. He, along with Member of Parliament Peter Fragiskatos and Mayor Matt Brown spent time talking to parents, children as well as Dr. Karen Bax, Mary J. Wright’s Centre director.

Bax told the minister the Centre is a unique community-university collaboration, the first of its kind, to be housed directly in the community. Bax explained that the Centre’s mandate is to facilitate interdisciplinary research in early child development and to develop early childhood researchers and professionals through practicum placements at the Centre.

Researchers from Western’s faculties of education, science, social science and health sciences work together with families, and those who work with children, to examine the environmental effects on brain development, cognition, language, literacy and numeracy. Social, emotional and behaviourial resiliency and wellbeing are also examined.

“A key factor in helping children during their early years is to expand the capacities of parents and professionals who work with children as well as communities. We strive to reduce the time between when knowledge is created and when it benefits the community,” said Bax.

The Centre tests their theories and sees immediately their intervention results. The Centre’s goal is to bring evidence-based practices directly to the community and foster the development of evidence-based preventions, promotion, and treatment program for children and families. Researchers also share their findings with academics and they’re also used to educate professionals who deliver children’s services to the community.

“Improved services can address significant inequalities in opportunity and identify what needs to be done to enhance outcomes for all children,” said Bax. “Our findings not only help children in London, Ontario but children are also helped across the country and internationally as well.”

The Centre, which is part of Western’s Faculty of Education, is housed at the Merrymount Family Support and Crisis Centre. The Research and Education Centre is named after Mary J. Wright who was a pioneer and visionary in the field of child psychology.

For more information on the Mary J. Wright Research and Education Centre at Merrymount, click here.