UNICEF highlights ‘Super Dads’

Posted: Friday, June 16, 2017. 10:32 a.m. CST.

By BBN Staff: UNICEF Belize joins UNICEF’s global ‘Super Dads’ campaign to highlight the critical role that fathers play in the early development of their children.  Early childhood development has been recognized for the role it can play in the achievement of multiple goals in the sustainable development agenda. Included explicitly in Goal 4 on education, early childhood development contributes directly to SDG goals on reducing poverty, improving health and nutrition, promoting women’s and girls’ equality, and reducing violence.

Neuroscience now offers new ways to understand early childhood development (ECD). Good parenting in early childhood, especially during the first 1,000 days, sparks neural connections in children’s brains, laying the foundation for their future successes. Research suggests that when children positively interact with their fathers, they have better psychological health, self-esteem and life-satisfaction in the long-term.

UNICEF’s global #EarlyMomentsMatter campaign aims to increase public awareness about the importance of the first 1,000 days of a child’s life and the impact of early experiences on a child’s developing brain.   The 2015/2016 Multiple Indicator Survey (MICS5) for Belize shows that only 24% of fathers play and engage in early learning activities with their children.  Given what we know from science about the impact of interaction on lifelong learning and development, this data is a cause for concern.

The Super Dads campaign highlights UNICEF’s work with government partners like the National Committee for Families and Children, the Ministries of Health, Human Development, Social Transformation & Poverty Alleviation and Education, Youth, Sports and Culture as it relates to early childhood development. Importantly, the campaign also celebrates fathers for the extraordinary and the simple things they do every day to support healthy development in their children.

Among the fathers that UNICEF celebrates are the dads within our staff such as Francisco Cuellar who has served with UNICEF for the past twenty-one years.  Two years ago, Francisco was involved in a traffic accident resulting in the amputation of one of his legs.  Cuellar said, “This disability chose me.  I did not choose it.  However, I do not let it define the quality of the rest of my life.  My children are teenagers, and I am committed to modelling to them how to positively manage life and its setbacks.”

Gary Tasher, who has served for nine years with UNICEF, says “A father’s role is just as important as a mother.  Often the children and the family look to the father for safety and security, especially in circumstances where the father is the sole economic provider.  Fathers play a critical role in providing for the emotional and financial needs of their children.”

Another super dad is Belizean Alex Cain, a stay-at-home dad who is raising two children – a girl aged six years and a baby boy aged three years old.  Alex said, “Parents should give their children as much love as possible.  You have to make sure you nurture them.  You don’t just buy stuff for them and then leave them in or a corner to play.  No, you actually give them that attention, play with them and read with them.”

UNICEF Belize’s message is that to be a Super Dad you need not be a celebrity or super star; you need only be present to love, play, provide protection and good nutrition for the healthy development of your young children’s brains.

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 Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts.  All photo and video submissions to the Super Dads initiative will feature on the #EarlyMomentsMatter gallery.

UNICEF will select the most heart-warming, humorous, and imaginative photo and video submissions to post them on the organization’s own digital platforms

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