Growing Together: The early years

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Nilutpaul, a disability officer from Bangladesh, carefully places his doll on her tummy. He listens as the trainers guide him through the early child development training. Soon, he will be the one to teach community workers and caregivers the importance of tummy time for young babies. 

“Caregivers need to understand that early stimulation of their baby can greatly support the child’s progress in their development and growth,” explains Cheryl Shin-Hua Yeam, Handicap International’s regional technical coordinator of the Growing Together project in Bangladesh, Thailand, and Pakistan. “Without stimulation in the early years, a baby’s brain does not grow to his or her full potential.

“We encourage play and routine-based daily interactions between caregivers and their young children. The brain development they receive at a young age is vital. We also foster healthy adult-child relations. The psychological and emotional welfare of the child is very important. A child that is sad, stressed, or lives in fear cannot fully learn and develop.” 

Handicap International staff members take notes and do hands-on training with dolls. Once finished with training, they'll return to their own working-area—refugee camps in Bangladesh and Thailand and IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camps in Pakistan—they will identify the youngest, most vulnerable refugee children who are at risk of development delays, and begin working with those children and their parents. The early child development training is an essential part of the Growing Together project. 

Growing Together Project

Growing Together is a four-year project in Thailand, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, and is funded by the IKEA Foundation. Handicap International is creating inclusive spaces where children can come together–through play–to work through some of the challenges they face, especially serving children with disabilities. In addition to inclusive playgrounds, Growing Together will target the youngest children who are at risk of developmental problems. Simultaneously, the program will engage local child development service providers and help them become more responsive to the needs of boys and girls with disabilities and other vulnerable children. Learn more about the partnership.