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5.5 Things Every Designer Should Know About Positive Childhood Experiences with Robert Sege — DT101 E110

This episode of the Design Thinking 101 podcast is 5.5 Things Every Designer Should Know About: Positive Childhood Experiences. Dr. Robert Sege, MD PhD is a pediatrician at the Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center, and a professor of medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine, where he directs the Center for Community Engaged Medicine. Dr. Sege is nationally known for his research on effective health systems approaches that directly address the social determinants of health. He is a senior fellow at the Center for the Study of Social Policy in Washington, and serves on the boards of the Massachusetts Children’s Trust and Prevent Child Abuse America. He has served on the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect, and on its committee on injury violence and poisoning prevention.

Portrait of Robert Sege

Listen to Learn About

  • Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Positive Childhood Experiences (PCEs)
  • Designing for children
  • Helping kids navigate childhood in a positive way
  • The importance of creating safe environments for children
  • Ways we can give kids positive experiences that allow them to thrive

Our Guest

Robert Sege, MD, PhD is a Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine, where he directs the Center for Community-Engaged Medicine and is a core faculty member of the Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute. He has served on national committees for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), been lead author on several important AAP policies, and has received national awards for his work, including the prestigious 2019 Ray E. Helfer award from the Alliance of Children’s Trusts and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

He has led teams that developed new models for pediatric primary care and a new framework for working with children and families (HOPE). His extensive speaking and publication list include contributions to the prevention and treatment of child maltreatment and youth violence.

He is a graduate of Yale College, received his PhD in Biology from MIT and his MD from Harvard Medical School, and did his pediatric residency at Boston Children’s Hospital. Bob lives in the Boston area, where he and his wife Karen have raised three young adult children.

Show Highlights

[03:35] Bob starts the conversation talking about how all of the things we experience as children – good and bad – have a lasting impact on who we are as adults.
[05:47] Parents: trust yourselves and your ability to raise your children.
[06:33] Dawan and Bob talk about the often-contradictory advice that exists for parents.
[07:34] Positive modeling for kids.
[09:07] Children need safe, stable, nurturing relationships.
[10:03] Defining family.
[10:19] Designing housing and the spaces where families and communities gather.
[14:15] Children need to have safe and equitable environments to live, learn, and play in.
[14:29] Looking at the physical environment kids need.
[15:23] Children also need a safe emotional environment.
[16:49] Bob offers ideas for modern school design.
[17:32] The need for arts programs in school.
[18:01] HOPE’s website logo was designed by Boston Public High School students.
[19:18] Children need to be actively engaged.
[20:49] Dawan mentions how many services are designed more for parents than for the child.
[21:21] Giving kids a sense of ownership in the family and in the world.
[22:13] Designing and building community and finding ways children can be involved.
[24:09] Children need opportunities for emotional growth.
[24:31] Emotional growth on the playground.
[26:06] Children need time in nature.
[27:52] PCEs help us humanize one another and help us look past our biases about someone.
[31:13] Dawan comments that it’s just as important to know the good stories as it is the bad stories if we really want to understand.
[31:52] Bob talks about parent cafés and other places where parents can meet to talk about parenting.
[33:37] Where to learn more about HOPE and the work Bob is doing.


Robert on Twitter
Robert at Tufts Medical Center
Robert at the Center for the Study of Social Policy
Effective Discipline to Raise Healthy Children
Evidence-Based Health Care for Children: What Are We Missing?
Positive Childhood Experiences offset ACEs: Q & A with Dr. Robert Sege about HOPE
HOPE: Healthy Outcomes from Positive Experiences
HOPE on LinkedIn
HOPE on Twitter
Register for HOPE Summit 2023

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5.5 Things Every Designer Should Know About: The Opioid Overdose Epidemic (Part 1) with Stacy Stanford — DT101 E102
A Designer’s Journey into Designing for Health and Healthcare with Lorna Ross — DT101 E45
Healthcare Design Teams + Wellness + ScienceXDesign with Chris McCarthy — DT101 E24

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