Click here to listen to the podcast

Reflection by Edgar Cahn

Without public radio, Laura might have walked past the TimeBank table at the Phoenixville Farmer’s Market and never thought to check it out or sign up. Thanks to the TimeBank, Carla’s homecooked left-overs provided Laura with real (and delicious) nutrition. The mom of triplets got help feeding her newborns. Laura got new friends, an extended family and a unique competence in infant care that just might come in handy one day for her own family.

Public radio helped create those possibilities; consider what social media like Google, Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram could do to spread TimeBanking. That has critical implications.

All infants are born with the same number of brain cells. But a recent study of the brains of 1,099 children found that the brains of children from the lowest income bracket had up to 6% less surface area than those of children from affluent families. Those differences affect areas of brain structure associated with language and decision-making skills.

That difference may not be due to malnutrition. The federal government now spends approximately $6 billion per year on a federal program called WIC – Women, Infants and Children, to assure that pregnant women get the food they need to deliver healthy babies and ensure that those babies are well nourished. Infant formula manufacturers provide substantial discounts, in the form of rebates, to state WIC programs in return for the exclusive right to provide their products to the state’s WIC participants.  

The brain nerve cells at birth are mostly not connected to one another yet. Sensory stimulation causes brain nerve cells to signal one another. Those signals form connective pathways called synapses. With appropriate simulation, from birth to age 3, the brain forms around 1,000 trillion synapses in response to sights, sounds, touch and taste.

Why couldn’t TimeBanks undertake to provide all new born infants in their community with the stimulation needed to equalize synaptic growth? We know how to do that.