Children’s Summit 2.0: Discover Together attendees are already looking for ways to make use of the tremendous wealth of research presented at the June 2nd gathering. This follow up to the original Children’s Summit was presented in partnership by Heart of Florida United Way and Walt Disney World Resorts. More than 250 representatives from Central Florida non-profits and community service groups came together for a sold out event at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, where they listened to guest speakers and then exchanged ideas on how to best serve our children. Central to the research and the table discussions was the importance of strengthening families. Dr. Helen Hadani, Lead Research Strategist for Center for Childhood Creativity, talked about her white paper and how language and play interaction affect brain development at different ages. Her talk was followed by Dr. Eugene C. Roehlkepartain, Vice President of Research and Development at Search Institute. His white paper presentation looked at family characteristics that influence childhood well-being. Additionally, United Way’s own Ray Larsen went over key findings from the first Children’s Summit, and used a real-time electronic poll to give attendees a snap shot of some misconceptions surrounding Central Florida families and their needs.
Children’s Summit clearly had an impact. Within days of the summit, 120 attendees had already agreed to continue working on the issues presented. The plan now is for United Way to begin pulling those interested parties together over the next few months to help drive suggestions to implementable action. Additionally, Nemours and the University of Central Florida want further discussions on how they might collaborate on strengthening families. And finally, Lift Orlando is looking at how to use the research presented for its efforts on the ground, working with families living around the Citrus Bowl. Information and data collected from attendees will eventually be used to develop a resource and asset directory so that those continuing to work on Children’s Summit issues will find it easier to collaborate going forward.