It is easier and cheaper to create strong, happy and resilient
children than it is to mend struggling, unhappy and broken adults
Putting people and planet first
The period of early childhood (i.e. pre-birth to 8 years) is one of rapid, miraculous development. Experiences during this time are the most significant in our life course, as they lay the foundations for all that comes later. To create societies in which human flourishing can prevail, it is essential that we cultivate and promote healthy early life experiences for every child.
Sadly, many children today are struggling with the ever-encroaching pressures and undue expectations of the adult world. The changing nature of family and community life, the lack of contact with nature, the increasing influence of the media, the pressures of the schooling system and the impact of the digital world, have all steadily eroded the environments and experiences children need in order to refine their senses and develop into happy, confident learners, in touch with themselves and the wider world.
In 2016 an estimated 41 million children under 5 were affected by overweight or obesity (WHO, 2017). Without effective treatment they are likely to remain overweight and obese throughout their lives, putting them at risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and premature death, as well as suffering physical and psychological consequences in childhood.
In 2014 more than two-thirds of children in the USA (ages 17 and younger) were exposed to violence within the year, either directly (as victims) or indirectly (as witnesses). Base estimates show a minimum of 50% or more of children in Asia, Africa, and Northern America experienced past-year violence, and that globally over half of all children—1 billion children, ages 2–17 years—experienced violence. (Hill, S et al, 2016).
Early deprivation and trauma has a life-long impact. Nearly one in eight children (12 percent) have had three or more negative life experiences associated with levels of stress that can harm their health and development. (Child Trends Databank, 2013).
Depression is estimated to affect 350 million people and is currently the leading cause of disability worldwide (WHO, 2012)
” In today’s world your zip code, even more than your genetic code,
determines whether you will live a healthy life. People’s income, family
structure, housing, employment, and educational opportunities affect
not only their risk of developing traumatic stress, but also their access
to effective help to address it. Poverty, unemployment, inferior schools,
social isolation and substandard housing are all breeding grounds for
trauma. Trauma breeds further trauma; hurt people hurt other people.”
Bessel Van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score, 2017