The first thousand days of a child’s life determines ‘surviving or thriving’

Research shows that the brain develops the most in the first thousand days of a child’s life. Alarmingly some funders and researchers are not paying attention to this critical age group. During the Child in the City International Seminar in London, UK Darell Hammond, a senior advisor at Bernard van Leer Foundation (BVLF), outlined different innovative strategies BVLF is taking to usher in critical change so all children are able to have “a fair start, in a fair society”.

For the last fifty years, the Bernard van Leer Foundation (BVLF) has been working on brain science around the world. Hammond discussed how an indicator of a good city is “if the needs of the small children and their caregivers are met” as other residents will most likely have their needs met if the city caters to the most vulnerable (babies and toddlers). This is why it is vital for relevant stakeholders to focus on the youngest children in the city specifically ages zero to five. Continuing he cautioned there is a financial imperative to accurately translate what we know is best for kids into action.

Darell Hammond speaking at Child in the City International Seminar in London, 7 November 2017.

From programmes to policy

While the Bernard van Leer Foundation has a proud history of supporting programmes and has seen results from it they have shifted from solely focusing and funding programmes to also including policy research and implementation. Harmond stated, “if we do not get to the policy agenda and if we don’t fund people working on the policy agenda we are not going to get there fast enough.”

As an advocate for child-friendly policy Hammond also made a case for evidence-based research as it enables policymakers, public health departments, and transportation planners to have “better conversations and solutions around policy” which leads to implementing policies and solutions that get it right the first time.

Harmond extended BVLF’s invitation for others to join them in the ‘zone’ as they are hoping to go further faster together as a generation of children are waiting on us,  “the question is are we going to answer the call?”

If you missed The Child in the City International Seminar in London you can watch all the plenary sessions with our webinar replay here.

Author: Julia Zvobgo

Julia Zvobgo is the Community Manager of Child in the City.

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