Mary J. Wright Centre for Research and Education at Merrymount

Participating Faculties: Faculty of Education

Project Leaders: Professor Vicki Schwean

Total Project Funding:  $250,000

Funding Period: 3 years


Western University announces innovative research centre for early childhood development and intervention

Western University has taken a significant step towards becoming a global leader in the field of early childhood development research and intervention.

The University has partnered with the Merrymount Family Support and Crisis Centre and the family of the late Mary J. Wright to establish theMary J. Wright Research and Education Centre at Merrymount.

This unique Centre will drive state-of-the-art interdisciplinary research that examines factors influencing and impacting early childhood development, with the goal of fostering the health and wellbeing of society’s most vulnerable children and enhancing outcomes for all children.

Due to open in January, 2016, the Centre will be composed of an interdisciplinary team of basic and translational researchers from Western’s faculties of education, social science, health sciences, science, as well as King’s and Huron University Colleges, who will work collaboratively across three signature areas of research:

I. Environmental effects on brain development – toxic stress

II. Cognition, language, literacy and numeracy

III. Social, emotional and behavioural resiliency and wellbeing

Researchers will work to provide better life outcomes for children in these three signature areas by integrating an enhanced understanding of child development gained through basic research into evidence-based early childhood education and intervention programs and initiatives.

The Centre will also work to train the next generation of developmental researchers and professionals through graduate student practicums, internships, and research opportunities and build capacity within local, national, and international communities by sharing their knowledge with professionals who deliver children’s services.

The Centre has been purposefully located at Merrymount due to that organization’s long-standing ties and history of working with the community.

"Hosting this type of innovative work directly in the community is key to its success," said Ailene Wittstein, Executive Director of Merrymount. "We will be able to not only implement the results of this ground-breaking work almost immediately but gauge its success and work jointly with the researchers to identify and develop new areas of research for the future."