Pioneering work and pioneers: two excellent reasons to spend some time in SLC

June 6, 2012 by JoLynne Lyon

Two CPD researchers will discuss their work in Salt Lake City this month. It’s a perfect excuse to take a closer look at what they do. Both lectures are free and open to the public.

Dr. Vonda Jump

Dr. Vonda Jump

Research Scientist Vonda Jump is featured as one of Utah State University’s Sunrise Session speakers. On June 8 she will outline her work in orphanages around the world at the Little America Hotel. “Optimal Child Development” begins at 7:30 a.m.


Here’s what she says about her research:

There are many babies who are languishing in orphanages around the world: children are developing now and can’t wait for adoption to have a better life.  There is no reason, in my opinion, for babies and young children to be developmentally behind their home-reared peers.  There are no cost interventions and new strategies that can be implemented with orphanage caregivers to greatly improve children’s immediate and long-term outcomes. 

In my experience, caregivers are eager to get this information so they can improve on the heroic work they are already doing with children who are often forgotten.  As caregivers have learned and brainstormed new strategies, the children have responded by literally having their brains come to life.


CPD Director Bryce Fifield

CPD Director Bryce Fifield

CPD Director Bryce Fifield will present “The Untold Story of Mormon Pioneers with Disabilities” during the LDS Church History Library’s Men and Women of Faith lecture.  He speaks Thursday, June 14 at 7:00 p.m. in the Church Office Building main auditorium.

Here’s some background from Bryce:

I got interested in the experiences of pioneers with disabilities while on a youth trek with kids from our Stake several years ago.  We had people with us who happened to have some health issues and it was amazing to see how they responded to the challenges of the three day hike.  It started me wondering how many of the 70,000 Mormon Pioneer Emigrants had disabilities, and what their experiences on the trail were like.

Several colleagues and I have been working on this line of research now for about three years.  It is a complex story.  Many with disabilities did not make the trip. Only a small fraction of the pioneer emigrants had disabilities.  Of those that came, most made it all the way across the plains, some died along the way.  A few were abandoned.

There are some heroes and some who should be ashamed of themselves.  There are stories that are tragic and some that are inspiring. Some of them continue to play out today with a different cast.

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Sharing research on optimal child development techniques

May 4, 2012 by cpehrson

At Utah State University’s Sunrise Sessions, faculty and students share their research with USU alumni, community and business leaders and the public from the Salt Lake area. Held quarterly in downtown Salt Lake City, these early-morning presentations  inform listeners about world-leading research n diverse fields.

On June 8th, at the Little America Hotel, 500 South Main Street Salt Lake City, the CPD’s own Vonda Jump will be presenting her research on “Optimal Child Development.” Her presentation begins at 7:30 a.m.

A woman sitting on the ground in front of a camel

Dr. Jump has spent years investigating how critical early positive interactions with infants and young children is in creating optimal brain development, particularly in alternative caregiving environments, such as foster care or orphanages.  She has traveled extensively in Ecuador, Haiti, India, and Russia, training orphanage caregivers about the importantance of providing  positive early interactions with the young children there.

Their stories break your heart. Babies abandoned because they are the wrong gender. Toddlers given away when another new mouth comes into the family. Infants struggling to survive after they’ve lost both parents. “We can’t change their stories, but we can give them hope and a fighting chance,” says Vonda Jump, senior research associate at the Center for Persons with Disabilities’ Research and Evaluation Division. It is her belief in that notion that has led her to create and teach relationship-based intervention programs, including infant massage, in orphanages in some of the world’s neediest countries.

At the Sunrise Session, Jump will be talking about specific types of interactions that promote brain development in infants, such as talking, touching, showing them toys/objects. According to her research, it takes only simple interactions to make a positive difference in the brain development of infants and young children.

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Introducing Utah’s early childhood Act Early Ambassador

February 17, 2012 by cpehrson



Tracy Golden

Tracy Golden

The CPD would like to introduce Tracy Golden to our Utah readers.  Tracy was recently selected to serve as Utah’s  Act Early Ambassador for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” program.

The Act Early Ambassadors project is designed to develop a network of state-level experts to improve early identification practices for those providing services to very young children. Golden will play an important role in educating Utah’s parents, healthcare professionals, and early educators about early childhood development, warning signs of autism and other developmental disabilities.

Golden, a social worker and licensed mental health therapist, is a trainee with the Utah Regional Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (URLEND) Program through the CPD.  She was selected as an Act Early Ambassador because of her commitment to improving the lives of children and families and increasing access to services for children with developmental disabilities.

The Ambassador’s project is a collaborative effort on behalf of CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD), the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB), and the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD). Fifteen Act Early Ambassadors were selected to serve as state liaisons to the Act Early Initiative and act as a community agents to increase awareness activities and improvement of early identification practices.

Alfred Romeo is the Campaign Coordinator for the “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” (LTSAE) campaign in Utah. He is working with Tracy Golden to help parents learn about healthy development for their newborns and young children. The LTSAE web site offers a variety of tools and checklists that parents and professionals can use when they have concerns about a child’s development.

Tracy can be contacted at for more information and any questions about the campaign in Utah.


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