ANDOVER — Salvatore’s Restaurant owner Sal Lupoli put himself on the map by building pizzas. Now, he’s building brains.
Members of the Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce gathered at Andover Country Club yesterday morning for a breakfast forum looking at how to guide the regional workforce “from preschool to prosperity.”
The forum served a dual purpose of kicking off of a collaboration between Lupoli Companies, owner of Salvatore’s Restaurant and Sal’s Pizza, and the United Way’s Brain Building campaign, which works to support and grow early childhood development programs.
“Although kids represent a very small percentage of our population toady, when you think about 10, 20, 30, 40 years from today, they’ll be sitting in your chairs,” chamber President Joe Bevilacqua said. “There will be someone standing at this podium and discussing with others why it’s important to help kids learn. They’re our future.”
Susan Leger Ferraro, founder of childhood development ventures Little Sprouts and Imajine That, said the human brain develops most rapidly in its earliest years. Studies have shown that a brain aged one to five years creates around 250,000 synapses per minute, while an adult brain creates only around 1,000 per minute, she said.
A child’s ability to learn at earlier ages has life-long impacts that lead into the business world since students with stronger early development perform better later on, according to Ferraro.
“The reason (Lupoli) got excited about this campaign, the Brain Building campaign, if he had known 10, 15 years ago what he knows now about his work force, he wouldn’t be struggling so much,” she said. “The significance of it to his work force would have been better, faster, stronger and more able to take on what he needed them to take on.”
Mike Durkin, president and CEO of United Way of Mass. Bay and Merrimack Valley, used the example of his son Brendan, who has Downs Syndrome, as an example of where early childhood education can have far-reaching impacts.