WED Forum concludes today in Abu Dhabi

The WED (World Early Childhood Development) Movement, established by Abu Dhabi’s Early Childhood Authority (ECA), marked the close of the WED Forum for Early Childhood Development today. The Forum witnessed the proposition to implement 15 short-, mid-, and long-term solutions to tackle the most pressing ECD challenges identified. In addition, the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority (ECA) and Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC), in partnership with its Visionary Partner Mubadala and Mubadala Health, organized a 1-kilometer Fun Run for guardians and young children and their siblings at  Yas Island’s Pier 71 in Abu Dhabi.

On the second day of WED Forum a panel session on “Investments re-imagined: Why is early childhood development the future of human investment” uncovered research showing that investing in children’s emotional and social well-being in the early years has positive long-term economic and social development impacts. Every dollar invested in high-quality early childhood programs provides a return of between $4 to $16 in future social and economic development. Research substantially demonstrates the long-term benefits of investing in early childhood development and high-quality early childhood initiatives, which result in higher productivity and economic activity, reduced crime and antisocial behavior, decreased demand for government assistance, in addition to increasing children’s IQ scores by more than 11 points.

Panel speaker Erinna Dia, Associate Director, Early Childhood Development, UNICEF, HQ, denoted: “The beginning of a child’s life sets the tone for their future. When we give children the best start in life, the benefits are enormous. Investment in early childhood development is one of the most powerful and cost-effective means we have at our disposal to ensure that all children reach their full potential during childhood and best prepare them as bright and productive citizens of a global economy.”

One of the outputs discussed and pursued to help all significant individuals in the life of a child, from policymaker, professional, parent to children, to create the best foundations for a child’s learning, and behavior and promote emotional wellbeing and physical wellbeing was the ARCS (Achieving the Rights of the Child Systemwide) Playframe. Abu Dhabi’s Early Childhood Authority together with the Emotional Wellbeing BWG (Breakthrough Working Group) – a group of specialized experts – started the prototyping of the ARCS  Playframe. This is an AI-powered platform which will host all relevant ECD resources. Through the platform parents and educators will find information and resources to guide them in supporting children’s emotional wellbeing and understanding how their own feelings are affecting their relationships with their children.

To respond to the lifestyle-related health problems honed during the panel titled ‘Re-modelling interactive physical play for children of the digital era’, creative Eat-Sleep-Play-Learn boxes were proposed. The boxes are essentially contextual physical resources that reveal Eat-Sleep-Play-Learn guidelines and energetic lifestyle habits to enable meaningful social interactions and the formation of deep emotional bonds through social play.

Other key sessions included How should governments and policymakers address the “yet to be known” negative impact of technologies used today? by H.E. Omar Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications, Prime Minister Office via a recorded speech.

H.E. Omar Al Olama said in a recorded speech: “The focus on artificial intelligence is one of our most important priorities in the next fifty years journey, we seek to enhance the participation of artificial intelligence in bringing about a major renaissance in various sectors as the main driver of comprehensive and sustainable development. Therefore, one of the BWGs within WED has been assigned to work on the subject of Tech for Humanity for Children, to provide solutions and pioneering ideas that enhance the early childhood development sector’s benefit from advanced technologies while enhancing the quality of digital life for our young children and reducing the risks that these technologies may cause them.”

H.E. added: “We in the UAE have a clear vision for the future, and we are working within integrated efforts to prepare future generations and bring them up in a safe and stimulating environment that ensures their growth and prosperity and supports their latent and full potential, by providing them with the best opportunities and enabling them to be active in their community and able to continue the path of growth. and prosperity for their country. ”

The second day also included a session on Developing Mental health resources for a digital generation presented by Dr. Dimitri Christakis, Pediatrician, Author & Researcher, University of Washington. An important session on reformulating interactive play methods to suit children of the digital generation presented by global education expert Dr. Michael Borba as well as a specialized panel sponsored by Daman on how parents spend in front of screens affects children’s habits related to technology use, and a panel discussion on reassessing the importance of the role of early childhood development workers in society.

To promote healthy lifestyles from a young age and inspire the best possible outcomes that positively impact children’s lives in Abu Dhabi and beyond, the Forum ended with a fun run at Abu Dhabi Yas Island’s Pier 71 Parking. The ‘Fun Run’ saw over 500 children, their families and siblings participate and enjoy a 1-kilometer course marked with fun and playful features such as a colorful, ‘light touch’ interactive path, designed tunnels, interesting textured sections, as well as colored vinyl pathways, guiding the children through the challenge.

H.E. Aref Hamad Al Awani, General Secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council added, “We are proud to have successfully hosted the ‘Fun Run’ in support of the WED Movement. Community activities such as these exemplify the awareness and importance we aim to create in the Emirate and beyond. Focusing on the significance of a healthy and active lifestyle for the new generation enables us all to contribute to the future of our community.”

Another key community initiative, led by the WED Movement and in partnership with Manchester City Football Schools UAE, is the Healthy Lifestyle Program, an innovative program that has been taking place as the Movement marked its first successful steps this year. The Healthy Lifestyle Program consists of a series of interactive fun workshops created for young children that are inspired by Manchester City FC players, to deliver entertaining and educational health and fitness sessions. Coaches from Manchester City Football Schools and experts from the WED Movement will continue to host workshops across participating schools in Abu Dhabi until Q2 2022.

The WED Movement was introduced in 2021 under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority. The Movement aims to spur innovation in the Early Childhood Development sector in Abu Dhabi through its BWGs to realize Abu Dhabi’s ECA vision 2035 in working towards ensuring every young child is provided the best possible opportunity to be healthy, confident, curious, and able to learn and develop strong values in a safe, family-friendly environment in Abu Dhabi.

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