UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Shakira spoke for the young children of the world as she urged the global leaders to invest in early childhood development.
New scientific discoveries are exposing the lasting effects of stress and deprivation on a growing child’s brain.
In a press release by the UNICEF, Shakira said that over 100 million children do not go to school while 159 million children under five are cognitively and physically stunted, owing to lack of proper nutrition and care.
She added, ‘Every year that passes without us making significant investment in early childhood development and initiatives that address these issues, millions of kids will be born into the same cycle of poverty and lack of opportunity’. The singer-songwriter believes investing in early childhood development programs is an urgent matter and not something that can be postponed.
At this growing stage, brain development is the most intense with almost 1000 neural connections occurring every second. The synaptic connections happening during this period form the basis for the child’s future wellbeing and health conditions such as the ability to adapt to change, capacity to learn and to handle diversity, said the press release.
The press statement further added that almost one-third of under-five kids in middle and lower-income countries are being brought up in situations and environments that could negatively interfere with this phase of rapid growth and development.
New research reveals that developing the brains of the young kids are as affected by environmental factors as they are affected by genetics. Lack of stimulation, not enough nutrition and toxic stress can have a lasting negative impact on brain development. These researches also reveal that cost-effective and early interventions like encouraging breast-feeding, spending quality time with young children and formal early education programs can support healthy brain development.
UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) is a United Nation’s program with headquarters in New York. UNICEF offers long-term developmental and humanitarian assistance to both children and mothers in developing nations. Initially, UNICEF, which was set up by the UN General Assembly in 1946, was created to cater to the emergency food and healthcare needs of children in countries that had been destroyed by the Second World War.