Kim Cosgrove: About 20 years ago, I was asked to head the PACT Therapeutic Nursery which is part of Kennedy Krieger Institute. The nursery is a program that works exclusively with homeless families and their little ones under 3. A mom walked into our program, had a baby who was just 6 months old. Mom rarely smiled. Baby rarely smiled. Mom hardly made eye contact. Baby wasn’t that typical 6 months old that just glows whenever somebody walks by. Mom also held her like a rag doll with her facing out.
We started to nurture that mom and inviting her to spend time in the classroom and to do a particular intervention called our photographic baby life book that we still do today where we take pictures and then sit and reflect back on those pictures with a parent. So we started to do that on a regular basis. Mom actually looked at the first picture and realized “oh my goodness, I look so solemn. My baby looks so solemn. I need to find a way to make my baby happy.” So she stayed in the classroom, learned from our teachers and they started to come out of their shell.
Mom started to smile more. Baby started to smile more. This little sweet baby girl of hers who wasn’t crawling was now crawling and smiling and playing and laughing and the two of them were just blossoming in front of our eyes.
It really inspires me every day and inspires our team every day. We come together to support these very vulnerable families who really bond to be the best they can be.