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Early Childhood

New UNICEF kit meets developmental needs of young children in emergencies

© UNICEF/2009/Ferré
UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman launches the new Early Childhood Development Kit in Geneva. The kit targets children under six years old who are affected by emergencies.

NEW YORK, USA, 15 July 2009 – Building on the success of its School in a Box kits for education in situations of conflict or natural disaster, UNICEF today launched a new product designed for children under the age of six living in emergency or post-crisis environments.

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“It is essential to ensure resumption of normal childhood activities without delay, even in an acute phase of an emergency,” said Executive Director Ann M. Veneman.

Early childhood’s lasting impact

The Early Childhood Development (ECD) Kit, unveiled today in Geneva, aims to encourage the continued development and social interaction of children during and after crises.

© UNICEF/NYHQ2009-1058/Markisz
Components of the ECD Kit include coloured paper and coloured pencils.

At today’s launch of the kit, Veneman spoke of witnessing the pain endured by young children during conflicts. She recalled visiting a psycho-social counselling centre in the Gaza Strip, where children were encouraged to express their feelings through art.

Research shows that early childhood is the most critical period for brain development, with experiences in the first years of life having a more lasting impact on mental health and development than any others.

‘Magnets to children’

Each of the ECD Kits prepared by UNICEF contains 37 items designed to promote social interaction with young children’s peers and caregivers. Before its global unveiling, the kit was piloted in seven counties in crisis or post-crisis transition, including Iraq, Chad and Maldives.
“It is the first of its kind within the humanitarian community designed to address the developmental needs of young children,” said Deputy Director of Emergency Programmes Dermot Carty.

© UNICEF/2009/Ferré
UNICEF Deputy Director of Emergency Programmes Dermot Carty addresses the Geneva press conference during the launch of ECD Kit.
“The materials – dominos, colouring pencils, construction blocks, hand puppets, puzzle blocks, memory games – give children a sense of property, something which they own,” he added. “Our experience in the field tells us that educational kits act as magnets to children.”

Valuable resource

UNICEF has responded to more than 800 emergencies worldwide in the past three years, working to protect and improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of children in conflict or natural disaster zones.

To date, some 600,000 School in a Box kits have been distributed around the world. The ECD Kit is envisioned as a valuable resource in these efforts to come.




15 July 2009: UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman speaks at the launch of the new Early Childhood Development Kit in Geneva.
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