Bezos Foundation transforms children's hospital to advance early brain development

The organization's Vroom initiative is being integrated with Mount Sinai Kravis Children's Hospital.

The Bezos Family Foundation has teamed up with Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital to enhance early brain development among kids using the foundation’s Vroom initiative.

Vroom, developed by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' parents Jackie and Mike Bezos and creative shop Johannes Leonardo, aims to help kids with brain development particularly in the key years from birth to age five. The program - piloted in 2015 - provides communities, parents and caregivers with early-childhood learning tips ad brain-building tools.

Through the partnership, Vroom is transforming six clinic spaces throughout the hospital so that children and parents can have higher quality interactions in those parts of the building. This project, in partnership with Mouth Sinai Parenting Center, is the first time Vroom’s brain-building tools have been integrated into a health care system.

"Mount Sinai brings a distinct focus on supporting parents and caregivers, and developing these skills through its Parenting Center was a natural place to start. And the leadership at Mount Sinai Hospital shared our vision to not just transform the environment of the hospital, but the whole culture around brain building," said Ellen Galinsky, chief science officer of The Bezos Family Foundation.

She added that other hospitals and health care professionals have shown a lot of interest in Vroom. "We’re in the process now of developing a scalable model for environmental integration and early childhood development training to help ensure the healthcare experience families have at Mount Sinai Hospital becomes the standard, rather than the exception," said Galinksy.

Johannes Leonardo worked closely with the research team at Vroom and the Parenting Center directors, as well as all of the unit staff to make sure the creative for the initiative was being communicated accurately, according to Hope Nardini, creative director at the agency. 

"Science was involved every step of the way, and everyone's voice counted," she said. "Here at JL, we learned quite a bit in the process. For example, diaper changes are the ideal distance apart from you and your baby to communicate. So that's a great time to speak to them and help them start to get acquainted with basic language."

The agency also learned that small moments, like using hand sanitizer, can be a great way to talk to children about textures (rough versus smooth, and so on).

Nardini said that JL really enjoyed using elements of the space in unique ways, such as adding rocket illustrations on the elevator doors to make it fun for families and adding a seven-foot giraffe illustration along the wall in the triage area where children's height and weight are measured. 

"All the illustrations are focused on creating these moments of interaction between parents and children in a space that is designed to be playful and approachable," Nardini said.

 

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