University of Pittsburgh
March 12, 2007

Children's Troubadour "Raffi" to Deliver Keynote Address at Pitt During Conference on Children March 29-30

Raffi Cavoukian-internationally renowned singer, children's entertainer, and founder of child-honoring movement-joins leading childhood experts at conference titled "Child Honoring: How to Turn This World Around"

Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH-Child psychologists, pediatricians, educators, and students will gather at Pitt March 29-30 for a discussion on child-honoring-a philosophy that seeks to create a more humane and ecologically sustainable world by addressing the universal needs of the very young. The conference, called "Child Honoring: How to Turn This World Around," will take place in the Assembly Room of Pitt's William Pitt Union, 3959 Fifth Ave., Oakland. The conference kicks off the Month of the Young Child, a national recognition of young children and their education.

The March 29 session, from 7 to 9:15 p.m., features a panel discussion and a keynote address and musical presentation by Raffi Cavoukian, an internationally renowned singer and songwriter who developed the child-honoring philosophy as a revolution in values-a children-first approach to global restoration.

The March 30 schedule, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., includes additional presentations, a question-and-answer session, and closing remarks by Cavoukian. Renowned presenters include Ronald Colman, Philip Landrigan, Penelope Leach, Susan Linn, Herbert Needleman, and Sharna Olfman. Brief biographies of the presenters appear below.

In addition to the University of Pittsburgh Institute for Excellence in Early Childhood Education, conference cosponsors include Point Park University, Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children (PAEYC), and The Pittsburgh Foundation. Admission is $45 for PAEYC members and students, $65 for nonmembers, and free for Pitt and Point Park students, provided they preregister. For more information, call 412-383-2100 or e-mail A complete conference schedule and registration form is available at

Background on Presenters

Keynote Speaker Raffi Cavoukian

Called "the most popular children's entertainer in the Western World" by The Washington Post, Cavoukian is a singer-songwriter, record producer, entrepreneur, ecology advocate, and president of Troubadour Music. He is the coauthor of Child Honoring: How to Turn This World Around (Praeger, 2006), which uses contributions by experts in a number of disciplines to describe his philosophy of a children-first approach to creating a more humane culture. The book's companion CD, Resisto Dancing, musically expresses these themes. Cavoukian is the recipient of many awards, including the Order of Canada and the United Nations' Earth Achievement Award as well as two honorary degrees: a Doctor of Music from the University of Victoria and a Doctor of Letters from the University of British Columbia. In October 2006, Cavoukian was presented with the Fred Rogers Integrity Award by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood at the Judge Baker Children's Center in Boston.

Ronald Colman is an economist and founder and executive director of GPI Atlantic, a nonprofit research group that is constructing an index of ecologically sustainable development for Nova Scotia as a pilot project for Canada. He has published groundbreaking research on indicators of population health, community wellbeing, and environmental quality, and advises governments, universities, and communities on these topics. Colman sat on the sustainable development indicators steering committee of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy in Canada, and is editor of a magazine called Reality Check: The Canadian Review of Wellbeing.

Philip Landrigan is a pediatrician, epidemiologist, and internationally recognized leader in public health and preventive medicine. He has been a member of the faculty at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York since 1985 and chair of its Department of Community and Preventative Medicine since 1990. His pioneering research on the impact of pesticides on infants and children for the National Academy of Sciences led to the passage of the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996.

Penelope Leach, a world-renowned child psychologist, is author of Your Baby and Child: From Birth to Age Five (Knopf, 1997), which has sold more than 3 million copies in 29 countries. She has studied child development and childrearing as part of the British Medical Research Council. Leach helped found the UK branch of the World Association for Infant Mental Health and chaired the British Child Development Society.

Susan Linn is an award-winning ventriloquist known for using puppets in children's psychotherapy. She is a child psychologist and author of the internationally acclaimed book Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood (New Press, 2004). Linn is associate director of the Media Center at the Judge Baker Children's Center, an instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and founder of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.

Herbert Needleman, professor of child pediatrics and psychiatry at Pitt, is a distinguished researcher who played a key role in the five-fold reduction in the prevalence of lead poisoning in American children. In 1979, he mounted the first large-scale study of intelligence and behavior in children with no outward signs of lead poisoning. He followed these children into adulthood, showing that lead exposure is associated with increased risk for failure to graduate from high school and for reading disabilities. His work was instrumental in the decisions made by the Environmental Protection Agency to mandate the removal of lead from gasoline and by the Consumer Product Safety Commission to ban lead from interior paints. Needleman has been a consultant to the Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Office of Housing and Urban Development, and state and local governments, including the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's lead program.

Sharna Olfman, professor of clinical and developmental psychology at Point Park University, is editor of the Childhood in America book series for Praeger Press. She coauthored Child Honoring: How to Turn This World Around and also wrote No Child Left Different (Praeger, 2006) and Childhood Lost (Praeger, 2005). She has written and presented widely on the subjects of gender development, women's mental health, infant care, and child psychopathology.