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UNICEF and H&M Foundation launch an interactive digital brain development tool for young children

The UNI_FORM tool aims to visually display how games and play can support positive cognitive development

© UNICEF/UNI159377/Pirozzi
A caregiver helps two small children during a learning activity with blocks, at the Sayariy Warmi ECD centre in Bolivia.
NEW YORK, 24 October 2016 – A digital tool that interactively shows how games and play stimulate brain development during early childhood launches today. The interactive UNI_FORM ‘jacket’ was created by the H&M Foundation and UNICEF as part of a new UNI_FORM campaign to help promote early childhood development.

The UNI_FORM tool, which aims to visually translate neuroscience for parents and caregivers across the world, displays how young brains develop at yearly stages up to the age of five, and provides families with innovative age-appropriate play ideas that can help optimize brain development.

The jacket reveals different cognitive games that feed the brain as it evolves with the child´s age. The games are tailored for each age based on UNICEF's research on early childhood development.

"Early childhood presents a window of opportunity that define a child’s future. By using UNI_FORM as a symbol, we want to raise awareness around the fact that children who are stimulated in their early years learn more effectively at school, and as adults they can have a higher earning power and be of better health than children that don’t have these early opportunities,” said Diana Amini, Global Manager at H&M Foundation.

“Children who experience love, proper nutrition and protection in a stimulating environment during early childhood become resilient, learn effectively and are able to help build strong, safe communities and economies when they reach adulthood,” said Pia Britto UNICEF Chief of Early Childhood Development. “We are proud to launch this interactive tool to help give children the enrichment they need in these critical early moments of life.”

An estimated 249 million children under five in low- and middle-income countries are at an increased risk of poor development due to extreme poverty and stunting.

On www.theuniform.org, adults and children can interact with the UNI_FORM and at the same time support the right for every child to get the best start in life. During the earliest moments of life, children’s experiences have the power to shape the development of their brains as much as their DNA as neural connections take place at a once-in-a lifetime speed of up to 1,000 per second, forming their cognitive, social and emotional development.


Notes to Editors:

The UNI_FORM features a range of games that highlight the critical milestones in a child’s development and the opportunities to stimulate and foster these skills. All these stages are highlighted through a game which is embedded in the UNI_FORM digital jacket:

• Age One: Building blocks - focus on strengthening motor skills and eye-to-hand coordination that takes place in this phase of a child’s development.
• Age Two: Fantasy building - games linked to children's creative development, like shape, color and crayons.
• Age Three: Imitating animals - focus on the urge to create and encourage children to use their imagination imitating different animals.
• Age Four: Perception of time - interacting with a magical clock focusing on the development of the child's sense of time.
• Age Five: Identifying emotions - exploration of emotions through different expressions.

UNI_FORM is not part of a collection or for sale.
UNI_FORM follows the UNI-COIN initiative, launched last year by the H&M Foundation and UNICEF.
For cognitive games and more information on the UNI_FORM initiative and early childhood development visit www.theuniform.org.

About the Global Program for Education
The UNI_FORM campaign is part of the Global Program for Education – a collaboration between H&M Foundation and UNICEF. In February 2014, the H&M Foundation announced a grant to UNICEF of USD 9.3 million over a three year period. This grant enables UNICEF to reach 73,600 children with Early Childhood Development programs as well as influence governments to place Early Childhood Development on the national agenda and commit budgetary resources to address these issues. Few donors or governments prioritize funding for Early Childhood Development, which is why the H&M Foundation wants to contribute to filling that gap by supporting UNICEF.

About H&M Foundation
H&M Foundation is a non-profit global foundation, privately funded by the Stefan Persson family, founders and main owners of the fashion company H&M. The mission of the Foundation is to create long lasting positive change and improve living conditions by investing in communities, people and innovative ideas. Through partnerships with prominent organizations around the globe, the Foundation drives change within four focus areas; Education, Clean water, Strengthening women and Protecting the planet. In addition, the H&M Foundation can also provide emergency relief. Since 2013, the Stefan Persson family has donated SEK 1.1 billion (USD 154 million/EUR 123 million) to the H&M Foundation.

For more information about H&M Foundation and its work visit hm.com/hmfoundation.

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org

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For further information, please contact:
Anna Sandberg, Swedish Committee for UNICEF, Tel: +46 708 25 11 98, anna.sandberg@unicef.se
Tania Dhakhwa, UNICEF Geneva, Tel: +41 22 909 5243 tdhakhwa@unicef.org




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