Program Background

The topics and methods introduced in the Building Healthy Brains courses are based on the decades-long initiatives and research carried out through the Vermont Center for Children, Youth, and Families (VCCYF) and UVM’s Wellness Environment (WE). Conceptualized and developed by Jim Hudziak, MD, both VCCYF and WE are grounded in the idea that what we do changes gene expression through epigenetic modification, and influences the plasticity of our brain structure and function, and, ultimately, how we think, feel, and behave.

Dr. Hudziak’s vision is to expand upon these youth-based initiatives to offer tools for those providing services directly for TAY, making this knowledge more widely available to encourage behavior change in TAY through incentive-based approaches.

“Our brains are the home of our emotions, beliefs, and behaviors. All of us, at one time or another, have experienced emotional and behavioral problems. These emotional and behavioral problems precede and lead to general medical problems and most of society’s struggles. Some of us struggle more than others and the explanation for why some struggle and others do not is now better understood as the interaction between genetics and environmental factors. Emotional, behavioral, and most general medical problems occur in the face of stress experienced across life. Adult psychiatric and general medical problems are very difficult to treat. Preventing the damage of these adverse environments leads to decreased adult psychiatric and general medical problems. Thus, to achieve better general medical health for a society, we first must promote better emotional behavioral health. WE HAVE THE SCIENCE AND NOW THE MANDATE TO BUILD HEALTHY BRAINS” – Jim Hudziak