H&M Foundation and UNICEF launch new partnership to support children with disabilities

Europe, Misc., December 11 2017

STOCKHOLM: H&M Foundation and UNICEF announced a new partnership to support young children with disabilities. The foundation has pledged USD 3.7 million and one aim is to reach more than 9,000 young children with disabilities, and their family members, with specialized early childhood development services over the next three years.

Happy kid with disability

Photo: UNICEF

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. “UNICEF is grateful to H&M Foundation for its commitment to helping provide life-changing support to young children, in particular those with disabilities.”

The initiative aims to scale up existing UNICEF early childhood development programs 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,” said Diana Amini, Global Manager at H&M Foundation.

The support provided to UNICEF’s early childhood development programs through the partnership will help better assess babies and young children for disabilities and developmental delays, improving their chance of receiving specialized 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.

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.

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