At 9:09 a.m. on the ninth day of the ninth month of the ninth year of 2009, the Hallie Ford Center for Healthy Children and Families was officially launched. As the ceremony began, the chimes atop the Memorial Union played the OSU fight song and children built a pyramid of giant blocks, topping it with a “Thank You” to the late Hallie Ford, and to her children and grandchildren who attended the ceremony. Taiwanese-born Tammy Bray, Dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences explained that nine is an auspicious number in her culture signifying transformation, unselfishness and altruism, characteristics of Hallie Ford who, just before she died at age 102, made an $8 million gift to create the Center.
Hallie’s children Carmen Ford Phillips and Allyn Ford both addressed the standing-room-only crowd at the corner of 26th and Campus Way, the site of the new Center. They remembered their mother as a caring, selfless woman who took great joy in being able to help those in need, particularly single mothers and children. And they challenged the college to chart a strategic plan of action to remedy the barriers to well being for children and families in Oregon.
The Center includes more than 30 faculty in the College who are taking a holistic approach to addressing the needs of children and families. “Researchers are exploring new paradigms of school readiness, solving the complex issues of childhood obesity, finding clues to childhood risk in the face of resilience and reaching out to respond to the unique challenges of rural and vulnerable populations,” explains Dean Bray. “I eagerly look forward to the day when all of this energy, intelligence, wisdom, and passion dedicated to children and families are under one roof.” Groundbreaking for the Center is anticipated in 2010.
Nurturing development. Optimizing health. Discovering solutions.
Following the ceremony, a symposium featured Center researchers presenting highlights of their research and programs being developed to support children and families: Megan McClelland talked about her pioneering work in school readiness and the simple test she designed that can predict a child’s success in later grades; Joanne Sorte described the College’s Child Development “Living” Laboratory that provides services to the community and a learning tool for OSU students; childhood obesity expert Stewart Trost discussed his research to address physical activity and nutrition needs in child care settings; Jeff McCubbin spoke to OSU programs for children and adults with disabilities; Brian Flay focused on childhood risk and resilience; and Extension specialist Sally Bowman explained programs across Oregon that address the needs of rural and vulnerable populations.