Poverty Affects a Child's Brain Development

Children who come from affluent families tend to academically outperform children living in poverty. While this may not come as much of a surprise, new research from Nature Neuroscience reveals a correlation between affluence and brain size. According to the Huffington Post and Dr. Elizabeth Sowell, director of the Developmental Cognitive Neuroimaging Laboratory at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, the study reveals that the brain of "the kid whose family makes less than $25,000 is about 6 percent smaller in surface area than the kid whose family made $150,000." They saw that this disparity in brain size widens more drastically towards the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum. Researchers controlled for genetic factors and were able to conclude that children who come from higher-income families have healthier brain development likely due to "their exposure to better nutrition, health care, schools, play areas, air quality and other environmental factors known to play a role in brain development." And the best way to try and close the gap is to engaged children living in poverty through "after-school programs, healthier school lunches and other initiatives."15266492725_9384a4ccb6_k

According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, 27.2% of children in Palestine are living in poverty. This rate is even higher among refugee camps where 38.6% of refugee camp households suffer from poverty. To best address these needs of these households living below the poverty line, TYO implements high-quality early childhood programming to children ages 4-8 years old - which are some of the most critical years for a child's brain development - by creating a structured environment for active learning and self-discovery, and by providing healthy meals.