If you’ve spent any time with me, you realize that mental health and lifespan development are two topic areas that, I believe, are intertwined and incredibly important. After listening to Grand Challenges Canada’s President Peter Singer, I’m happy to report that I’m not the only one who thinks this way. “Saving Brains” is a collaborative project as a part of Grand Challenges program that is working to discover how we can unlock the potential of children’s brains in the first 100 days of life to be successful later on.
Take a look at how Grand Challenges Canada established the narrative here:
By laying the foundation of health and nutrition, and combining it with play-based responsive stimulation, children around the world have a greater chance of thriving throughout their lives.
As I heard Peter explain how they approach each initiative in their Grand Challenges program, it blew my mind as to how someone can have such a big picture view of incredibly large issues affecting millions of people. We often get laser focused on our lives that it’s difficult to dream big and tackle huge obstacles in the world around us.
However, Singer put his perspectively neatly into three bullet points of how Grand Challenges Canada pinpoints and executes the large global health and development topics that they want to undertake. After asking the audacious questions of what would happen if they could improve life in some way, they set out by focusing on three priorities:
- Proof of concept; the key is to understand where the science is leading on that particular goal and how the researchers can translate their findings to real-world applications.
- Sustainability and scale: solutions need to be able to scale up and transform lives on a population level.
- Each challenge is a piece of the puzzle: according to Singer, the key is to build a portfolio of projects that move the needle toward the large goal.
These three priorities can easily translate to any topic area that you’re trying to move public understanding on a particular issue. We center our work at the NCRG on these tenets, and it was a nice confirmation that we’re heading in the right direction!