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National brain development conference kicks off Tuesday

Correction: Dr. Temple Grandin will not attend this year's conference. She has been the keynote speaker in the past, but will not appear at the 10th Annual Communities Collaborative Brain Development Conference in Mahnomen.

The 10th Annual Communities Collaborative Brain Development Conference, hosted by the White Earth Child Care Program and school districts on the reservation, is planned for Tuesday through Thursday at the Shooting Star Casino's Hotel and Events Center in Mahnomen. It's aimed to educate the public about children's brain development and strengthening families in rural communities.

"It's to bring the latest and most innovative information regarding brain development," said White Earth Child Care Program Director Barb Fabre. "Anything that affects children, people who have children, work with children."

Nationally known speakers will participate this year, drawing a large crowd from all over the country.

Dr. Cathy Grace, Children's Defense Fund Director of Early Childhood, will be the keynote speaker.

Grace is one of the people responsible for initiating the conference 10 years ago when Fabre asked her to bring her knowledge of neurons and brain development to the White Earth Reservation.

"Dr. Cathy Grace is coming back to talk about where we've been in the last 10 years when it comes to research and brain development," Fabre said.

More than 750 people from the public have already registered to attend the conference that has been attracting more than 1,000 participants every year.

In the past, speakers like Dr. Temple Grandin, an influential animal scientists, professor with high-functioning autism, and the name behind the HBO Emmy nominated film "Temple Grandin," have participated in the conference.

This year's conference kicks off with a session titled "Fetal Alcohol Spectrum and Brain Development Strategies" at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday. Various sessions will take place simultaneously before a 5K walk/run for autism awareness begins with registration at 3:30 p.m.

White Earth Chairwoman Erma Vizenor will open the conference with a welcoming message, along with a spiritual leader for a prayer/blessing ceremony. A closing ceremony will be held Thursday to conclude the conference.