Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority discusses the outcomes of the first year of ‘Voice of the Child’ initiative
- The Authority honors AlDhabi Al Mheiri for setting a new Guinness World Record
The Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority (ECA) recently met with members of the panel of the Voice of the Child initiative – the two-year initiative which was launched by the Authority last year- to discuss the outcomes related to early childhood areas with the aim of strengthening their role and participation in developing and testing solutions.
The panel includes a number of parents and children in Abu Dhabi, and aims to identify the challenges facing parents and young children in Abu Dhabi, as well as their needs and views on the authority’s initiatives. The ongoing dialogue ensures that the voices, views, and suggestions of parents and children are heard in order to create impactful change and enhance the role of the panel members- as ECA ambassadors – in educating all segments of the community about early childhood development.
In the first cycle of the initiative, the panel addressed questions around four key areas in childhood development, including technology, bullying, air quality, and children’s health insurance coverage. The panel’s results will be included in a report to be distributed among the ECA’s stakeholders for further study and the final insights gathered are expected to be fed into ongoing and upcoming initiatives. In addition, the panel’s feedback will be incorporated in policies that are currently being generated by the Authority around these issues, which aim to have positive, long-term impacts on children in Abu Dhabi.
“The ‘Voice of the Child’ initiative has been crucial for building the bridges of trust and effective communication among parents and young children in Abu Dhabi. By listening to their views and the main challenges they are facing firsthand, we are better able to identify their needs and include their input in the development of plans and programs through which the Authority hopes to achieve optimal development of the early childhood sector in Abu Dhabi. The members of the panel also play a key role in raising public awareness around the importance of early childhood development and proposing solutions for the issues discussed in the recurring panel meetings,” said His Excellency Eng. Thamer Rashid Al Qasimi, Executive Director of the Special Projects and Partnerships Sector at ECA.
The panel discussed the importance of the appropriate use of technology and limiting children’s screen time with alternatives, such as interactive games and activities focused on developing their capabilities, in order to enhance the quality of leisure time spent by children. They also addressed the issue of bullying, emphasizing the importance of boosting children’s self-esteem by listening to them, enabling them to express their opinions, as well as educating them about seeking help when necessary and exercising empathy and respect for others.
In terms of air quality, the members highlighted the importance of protecting children from air pollution by adhering to good practices, such as not smoking around children and maintaining air purification systems in order to protect children from dust or other allergens. In addition, they discussed the main challenges facing parents with regard to coverage programs provided by health insurance companies, as well as the most important health services for children during the first years of their lives, including early intervention services, mental health services, cognitive-behavioral therapy and developmental delay.
In addition, HE Sana Mohamed Suhail, Director General of the Authority, honored AlDhabi AlMheiri for setting a new Guinness World record as the youngest girl to publish a bilingual book in Arabic and English. AlDhabi’s outstanding achievement demonstrates the results and benefits of investing in early childhood. AlDhabi’s dream is to contribute to the delivery of the child’s voice by publishing their writings globally, and she hopes that her award gives hope for other children to believe in their abilities and take the initiative in sharing their ideas with their families as the first step to success.
“AlDhabi AlMheiri’s award is a testament to how much can be achieved when children are encouraged and supported by their parents and society to follow their passions. Through initiatives such as ‘Voice of the Child’, we are encouraging bright and talented children just like AlDhabi to make the most of their potential and creativity as they develop. The Authority will continue to work tirelessly to design and implement innovative programs to help children prosper and develop in a supportive environment,” Eng. Thamer Al Qasimi commented.
The ECA oversees the early childhood development sector in Abu Dhabi, adhering to the highest standards and placing the welfare of young children at the heart of all it does. It helps young children flourish by acting as an enabler of their partners’ support for holistic child development, establishing coordinated and aligned policies and laws, providing a knowledge hub to inform decision-making through research, data and evidence, and transforming how people think about and address the needs of young children.