During the earliest years of life, love, good nutrition, protection, and stimulating activities such as play, singing and early learning give young children the best possible chance of reaching healthy brain development. Yet, millions of young children around the world, in particular those with disabilities, are deprived of these critical experiences and are growing up in unsafe and unstimulating environments.
“When the brains and bodies of young children are protected from violence and pollution, stimulated through love, play and early learning activities, and nurtured with responsive caregiving and nutritious food, they have the best possible chance of developing fully, learning effectively, and contributing to their economies and societies when they reach adulthood,” says Pia Britto, UNICEF Chief of Early Childhood Development.
The initiative aims to scale up existing UNICEF early childhood development programmes in Bulgaria, Peru and Uganda to make them more accessible and tailored to the needs of children with disabilities and their families. Around 20,000 family members and caregivers will be reached with support to help them provide young children with the good nutrition, stimulation and protection they need through health, education and social services.
“Through our new partnership with UNICEF, we hope to transform the lives and futures of thousands of young children with disabilities. We hope this initiative inspires the private sector to invest in children’s early years – helping them reach their full health, happiness, wellbeing and learning ability, says Diana Amini, Global Manager at H&M Foundation.
The support provided to UNICEF’s early childhood development programmes through the partnership will help better assess babies and young children for disabilities and developmental delays, improving their chance of receiving specialised early childhood development care at the earliest opportunity. Creating a more inclusive support system aims to reduce discrimination that young children with disabilities may face.
“UNICEF is grateful to H&M Foundation for its commitment to helping provide life-changing support to young children, in particular those with disabilities.”
Pia Britto, UNICEF
Giving young children with disabilities the best chance of reaching their optimal development also helps considerably reduce the costs of special education, unemployment and institutionalization.
This initiative is the newest in a longstanding partnership between H&M Foundation and UNICEF, who have collaborated since 2014 to provide quality education and early learning opportunities for the most vulnerable children.
About H&M Foundation
The H&M Foundation is a non-profit global foundation, privately funded by the Stefan Persson family, founders and main owners of H&M group. Its mission is to drive long lasting, positive change and improve living conditions by investing in people, communities and innovative ideas. Through partnerships with organizations around the globe, the H&M Foundation drives change within four focus areas; Education, Water, Equality and Planet. In addition to this, the Foundation can also provide emergency relief. Since 2013, the Stefan Persson family has donated 1.3 billion Swedish krona ($177 million/€144 million) to the H&M Foundation. Visit hmfoundation.com and follow @hmfoundation on Facebook and Instagram.
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children visit unicef.org. Follow UNICEF on Twitter and Facebook.
PR & Communications Manager, H&M Foundation
+46 70 796 39 75
Public Relations Officer, UNICEF Sweden
+46 70 9955916