Kate, the Princess of Wales, launched her new early years campaign Shaping Us at a West End event last night, as she was joined by husband Prince William and celebrity supporters. The pre-launch event at BAFTA’s headquarters in London saw Kate introduce a new five to 10-year project to encourage everyone in the UK to give greater priority to the social and emotional development of children. The royal, who wore a striking red-trouser suit, spoke candidly of the importance of the campaign – something that has become her “life work” after more than a decade of championing on the issue.
Kate, whose campaign is backed by a 90-second clay animation film to be shown in cinemas across the UK and a national billboard advertising campaign, intends to devote the rest of her working life to highlighting how what happens in a child’s first five years often dictates how happy, healthy and confident they will be throughout adulthood.
She has received the support of scientists who say they can accurately predict what physical and mental health problems a person will suffer and how successful they will be as an adult by studying them in early childhood. Famous faces “from music, sport and television” also back the campaign.
“The campaign is fundamentally about shining a spotlight on the critical importance of early childhood and how it shapes the adults we become,” Kate said in a speech last night at BAFTA. “During this time we lay the foundations and building blocks for life.”
“And it is when we learn to understand ourselves, understand others and understand the world in which we live.”
William showed his support by joining her at the pre-launch event, and even co-ordinated his outfit to match hers with her suit.
Kate, 41, wants to see as much importance placed on the social and emotional progress of a child – how they interact with others, form relationships, are influenced by surroundings and are nurtured by all around them – as is given to whether the baby is the right weight, height, or is talking and walking at the correct time.
Last night’s glamorous event saw Kate joined by celebrity campaign champions including singer Rochelle Humes, rapper Professor Green, broadcaster Fearne Cotton, DJ Jax Jones, podcaster Giovanna Fletcher, Love Island star Zara McDemormott, rugby union player Ugo Monye and England women’s football captain Leah Williamson – all of whom have been vocal supporters of mental health.
Attendees got a sneak preview of the 90-second claymation film which shows how a little girl named Layla develops from pregnancy to age five and how she is shaped by her interactions with the people and environment around her.
The short film, which features a track by Lokki entitled Breathe a Breath of Me, will appear on Piccadilly Lights at Piccadilly Circus and will be screened in cinemas across the UK from Friday.
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The Princess of Wales has said “it is more important than ever” to support the development of young children as she aims to change the nation’s mindset.
Her campaign is not just aimed at parents. “All of society has a role to play in this, even if you are not directly involved in a child’s life, because we are all responsible for building a more compassionate world in which our children can grow, learn and live,” Kate said.
“In these difficult times, it is more important than ever to help support parents and caregivers provide loving safe and secure homes for their babies and young children to survive.”
The campaign is being launched by The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood, which Kate founded in June 2021, and highlights her intentions to devote the rest of her working life to encourage everyone in the UK to give greater priority to the social and emotional development of children.
The importance of early years development will be a “key focus” for Kate for the “rest of her life”, a Kensington Palace spokesman said.
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It comes as a survey published today by The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood shows that around one in three – 36 percent – of the British public admit to knowing little or nothing about how children develop in their early childhood. Research published last year found few people recognised the importance of the first five years.
By raising public awareness, the Princess and the experts advising her hope to change the nation’s mindset. Aides point to the effects of the campaign which she, William and Prince Harry began in 2016 to encourage a national conversation to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health problems.
This fell under the remit of the Royal Foundation, originally launched by the two brothers in 2009 as a base to support their charitable efforts and projects.
Kate joined in 2011 after their nuptials and the Duchess of Sussex joined in 2018.
The two couples eventually decided to split their charitable work into two separate entities in the spring of 2019 – but the Sussex Foundation was never launched due to the Duke and Duchess’ decision to leave the Firm in early 2020.