Improving the world, and one’s brain, at the same time

My wife and I just came back from an inspir­ing Gold­man Prize Award cer­e­mo­ny, where sev­en grass­roots envi­ron­men­tal change­mak­ers were rec­og­nized for their work and resilien­cy, and shared their pas­sion and pur­pose with every­one attend­ing the event. We did hear too from Al Gore, Tra­cy Chap­man, Robert Red­ford, and the founder of the awards 20 years ago, Richard Goldman.

The BBC recent­ly pub­lished an Op-Ed by Mr. Gold­man on the sto­ry behind the Awards them­selves: arti­cle Here. He explains how…

  • - “One morn­ing in 1989, as I sat with my dai­ly break­fast and news­pa­per, I read about the most recent Nobel lau­re­ates and won­dered if there was a com­pa­ra­ble award for envi­ron­men­tal work.”
  • - “We asked a staff mem­ber at our foun­da­tion to do some research and he found that noth­ing yet exist­ed to recog­nise envi­ron­men­tal work on an inter­na­tion­al stage, thus the Gold­man Prize was born.”
  • - “Our choice to focus specif­i­cal­ly on grass­roots envi­ron­men­tal lead­ers was unique at the time.”

Mr. Gold­man, and the sev­en win­ners, are clear­ly help­ing improve the state of the world.

Now, the “state of the world” does include their very own brains — you may have seen this recent paper on how Vol­un­teer Pro­gram Pro­vides Health Ben­e­fits To Old­er Women

  • - “She and her col­leagues found that EC vol­un­teers showed greater improve­ments in mem­o­ry and exec­u­tive func­tion than those who did not par­tic­i­pate in the pro­gram. In fact, the old­er adults with the low­est base­line per­for­mance in these areas — those most at risk for health dis­par­i­ties — demon­strat­ed the most sig­nif­i­cant gains.”
  • - “Both stud­ies high­light­ed above show that every­day activ­i­ty inter­ven­tions (e.g., EC) can appeal to old­er adults’ desires to remain social­ly engaged and pro­duc­tive in their post-retire­ment years. Simul­ta­ne­ous­ly, these activ­i­ties pro­vide mea­sur­able phys­i­cal and cog­ni­tive health benefits.”

Of course, those ben­e­fits do not accrue only for old­er adults (or just for women), but may help all of us grad­u­al­ly build Cog­ni­tive Reserves through the added nov­el­ty, vari­ety and challenge.

Talk about win/ win!

Relat­ed arti­cles on social entrepreneurship:

Every­one a Change­mak­er”, Ashoka and Google

Richard Dawkins and Alfred Nobel: beyond nature and nurture

About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.
SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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