Reeshemah Brightley ’99 and her mother, Daseta Gray, appeared on “Here and Now with Sandra Bookman” on ABC-TV last month. Gray is president of Sabree Education Services and Brightley is the company’s production coordinator.
Sabree Education Services provides information for parents of newborns to age 3 to improve the child’s cognitive, social and emotional school readiness skills. Sabree is also the home of the First 2000 Days New York Campaign, committed to teaching parents how to develop their infant’s cognitive, social and emotional skills before they get to kindergarten.
According to The Children Defense Fund, and noted on Sabree’s website, “At nine months there is no significant difference between Hispanic/Black and White babies in terms of cognitive development but by 24 months a large gap develops with Black/ Hispanic babies.”
Brightley and Gray discussed this disparity and the need to increase awareness of the need for brain development exercises among parents and providers in the African American community.
“A lot of us don’t seem to understand that brain development is always taking place,” explained Gray. “When you’re born, your brain is 25 percent developed. By the time you’re 5, it’s already 95 percent developed. The foundation for later learning is set in the first three years and so many of our families do not understand that.”
They also demonstrated some toys and activities that can be used to stimulate an infant’s brain development, including those that can be made simply at home.
Brightley pointed out that they offer a baby and me class, pop up classes beyond their headquarters in Harlem, and host a parent blog, among their services.
She earned her B.A. in Spanish and Hispanic literature from William Smith College. As a student, she was a member of the Black Student Coalition and the Echo and Pine staff. She studied abroad in Madrid, Spain, and the Dominican Republic. She has served as a member of the William Smith Alumnae Association’s executive committee and has been active in the HWS Club of New York City, the Afro-Latino Alumni/ae Association, and as a class correspondent.
Their full interview can be seen online.