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"Hear me now!” is the new ECD Campaign in Bulgaria

© UNICEF Bulgaria / 2011
Steven Allen, UNICEF Regional Director, addressing the conference in Sofia.

SOFIA, Bulgaria, 1 June 2011 - UNICEF launched the new communication campaign “Hear me now!” on early childhood development (ECD). ECD involves all the support that a child needs from their prenatal development to the age of 8 in order to realize their right to survival, protection and care, which will ensure their optimal development. It covers such areas as infant stimulation, health and nutrition, early childhood education, family support and community development among others. The UNICEF campaign will be fundraising resources for the new project “Schools for parents – Let’s grow up together”.

The campaign was presented on Children’s day during the international conference on ECD in Sofia. Tanja Raocaj, UNICEF Representative in Bulgaria stated that “Every child has the right to develop his or her full potentials. Children’s future depends on their first years of life, and with them future of their communities and the entire Bulgarian society will be shaped. ”
Steven Allen, UNICEF Regional Director addressed the conference: “It is not only the child’s future at stake. The price of not investing in young children may be very high for the society as a whole. Economists tell us that investment in early childhood development is the best investment for any society, as it maximises children’s potentials and reduces risks of greater problems in the future: such as learning difficulties, health problems and socially unacceptable behaviours. It increases productivity and contributes to economic growth”.  

Official guests of the conference which gathered more than 350 participants were Minister of Health, Deputy Minister of Health, Deputy Minister of Social Policy, Chairperson of the Health Parliament Committee, Chairperson of the State Agency for Child Protection etc.

The communication campaign is supported pro-bono by 26 TVs, 15 newspapers, 36 magazines, 15 radios and 45 websites. Graffiti BBDO team developed the campaign concept pro-bono and supported UNICEF project. 

For further information:

Tzvetelina Bonova, Communications Officer, UNICEF Bulgaria
Tel.: (++ 359) (0)2-96-96-207
Mobile: ++ 359 (0) 882-42-44-43

Additional information

UNICEF and ECD in Bulgaria

Our aim is for every child to have the best start in life. In the current economic conditions, it is more important than ever to invest the limited resources with care and in support of families. Early childhood development provides an excellent opportunity that may shape the future of thousands of Bulgarian children.

We are working in the field of education, healthcare, and social protection in conjunction with national and local authorities and the civil society toward developing and introducing policies and standards of early learning, access to healthcare, and support for families.

Why the ECD?

The first few years after their birth have a major influence on the child's success later in life - from good health and success in school to self-esteem level and social skills. Children's brains develop incredibly fast and nerve connections that are forged during that period through the interaction with those closest to them remain unchanged for life.

Overall emotional stability and feelings of trust are also established during the early years in life and later become the basis for any important relationships with peers, adults, and partners, and even with their own children.

It is safe to say that this critical period in a child's development offers great opportunities for each child, but it is also the period when those opportunities can be wasted. Poor upbringing in the first years of life is later reflected in feelings of dissatisfaction with life, impaired relationships, learning difficulties, eating disorders, high rates of crime and violence, addiction, and other personal and social issues. It is evident that such disorders become increasingly more expensive and difficult to treat later in life, often bringing no results.

Although every child develops at their own pace, numerous studies have shown that development is fastest during the period before the age of three. During that time, and especially during the first year of life, small children usually live in the privacy of their homes and are completely dependent upon adults. Parenting skills are crucial in bringing up children, providing emotional support, encouraging their development, and establishing successful communication with them. However, it is well known that most young parents never have a chance to learn and acquire positive parenting skills.

If we provide parents with support during this period, teach them about parenting skills and offer them knowledge that will help fulfill the potential of their child with love, we will give children a better chance at successful and happy lives in a healthy and progressive society.

Investing in early childhood development

Programmes and policies on early childhood development represent an investment in a country's future and both its economic and social development. They bring further benefits and contribute directly to increasing society's assets, while improving the effectiveness of all investment and addressing the issue of parents' need for child rearing know-how. Integrated programmes for the youngest also help overcome disadvantages, thereby providing one of the core means of fighting poverty.

Proper cognitive and emotional development during the early years will result in immeasurable benefits later in life. Investing in early childhood development has an annual return rate of 10 per cent. Early prevention is much less costly than any that would be invested in at a later stage in order to prevent existing health and social problems.



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