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Early Moments Matter: UNICEF supports Father's Day with Zakes Bantwini

UNICEF South AFrica/2017

7 June 2017 - UNICEF launched its Father’s Day campaign with celebrated musician and its Celebrity Advocate Zakes Bantwini supported by the LEGO Foundation today. The campaign highlights the importance of the first years of life as a critical period of rapid brain development and learning. From birth through to the earliest years of life, babies and young children need attentive and nurturing caregiving as well as interactive play, adequate nutrition, protection and love for the best start in life.

Experiences in the early years of life lay the foundations for a child’ future – on her or his health, education, wellbeing and financial success as an adult. The rapid development and tremendous sensitivity to everything makes young children’s brains extremely vulnerable. This also makes early childhood an unparalleled opportunity to improve the lives of children born into disadvantage and deprivation.

With more than 90 countries celebrating Fathers’ Day this month, the initiative invites families to post photos and videos of what it takes to be ‘super dads,’ using the hashtag #EarlyMomentsMatter on their Instagram and Twitter accounts. To inspire families across the world and South Africa to share their best dad moments, photos and videos of UNICEF ambassadors and supporters who have got behind the campaign will be posted on UNICEF’s Instagram and Twitter, and featured on the campaign’s gallery between 6 and 18 June.

New Dad and UNICEF Celebrity Advocate, Zakes Bantwini, says “I am delighted to be working on the Father’s Day campaign with UNICEF. For me it shows why we need to be doing this work. We know that both mothers and fathers have a unique opportunity to shape their children’s brain development -and their futures -- in the earliest years of life, especially the first 1,000 days”. The campaign will also highlight positive male involvement and how this acts as a catalyst for improved growth and development within the first years of life.

The following are ways of showing how parents can take the journey:

  • Nurturing Care: Nurturing interaction between parents and babies jumpstarts brain development, promotes wellbeing and bolsters learning ability.
  • Eat-Play-Love: Important ingredients for supportive and engaging parenting. Mothers and fathers give their children the best start in life by providing nutrition, protection, stimulation through play, and care.
  • Play from the start: Attentive and supportive caregiving, including interactive play, helps a child develop the skills needed to learn. Play also a critical form of stimulation that boosts children’s cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development.
  • Building brains from the start: A baby and young child’s experiences with people, places, and things interact with her genes to lay the foundation for the brain’s architecture. A baby and young child’s brain can form an astonishing 1,000 new neural connections every second. These connections are created when parents interact with their babies in simple ways such as comforting, reading, hugging, talking and singing.

UNICEF will work with its partners to ensure the message of positive parenting and particularly father and male involvement become a pivotal aspect of consideration within early childhood development.

Motheo Matsau, Chief of Marketing and Sales at Ster-Kinekor Theatres shares, “It is important for us to support the well-being and upliftment in children. At Ster-Kinekor and our CSI initiative, Vision Mission, we understand the effects of growing up without a clear vision.” He adds, “We’re so happy to lend support to our UNICEF partner to drive the positive upbringing and development in children in their early years of life, and the skills needed to help dads give their children the love and vision they deserve”.

UNICEF works with external broadcast partners including SuperSport who has run its Let’s Play Initiative for the last few years in support of UNICEF.

Another partner, Mango Airlines also shows support for UNICEF: “Mango supports UNICEF invaluable work in the area of early child development. We understand the importance of the need to invest in very young children, so as to maximize their future well-being. The children today are our future leaders who will shape our country’s economic, technological, socio-political and environmental strength. Since evidence shows that a person’s life successes, health and emotional wellbeing have their roots in early childhood, it makes sense to invest in this vital phase of children’s lives.”

Additional partners of UNICEF include the SABC Foundation and Ndalo Media who generously provide airtime and media space for all UNICEF campaigns and initiatives. These partners allow us the space to provide a platform for children in South Africa.

The work was done by Advertising agency Red September as well as Rooftop Productions.





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