Kate to make ‘generational change’ as project likened to King’s work

Kate Middleton speaks to pupils for Children’s Mental Health Week

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Kate, Princess of Wales, said “it is more important than ever” to support the development of young children as she launched her new early years campaign. It came a day after the mother of three wrote an open letter about how vital the earliest years of a child’s life are. The Shaping Us campaign aims to shine a spotlight on a child’s start in life while improving society’s understanding of the importance of early childhood in shaping adulthood and society as a whole. The long-term project was launched by The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood and has been described as the Princess’ “life work”. Now, a royal commentator has the potential to make “generational change”, comparing it to previous royal projects that have raised awareness for important issues.

Zoe Forsey and Russell Myers, hosts of the Pod Save The Queen podcast, discussed Kate’s latest venture last week.

Mr Myers compared the Princess’ project to previous royal schemes, which have been able to strike up a conversation. For instance, King Charles III has been an active campaigner for the environment for more than five decades, giving his first major speech on the issue, warning of the dangerous effects of plastic pollution, in 1970 aged 21. It wasn’t until 1992 that the United Nations recognised climate change as a serious issue.

He said: “They need people to start talking about it in order to then work out what is needed and work out what life-changing impact they can have for different sections of society.

“And so they have to take baby steps. It’s been described to me as her life’s work…It’s very worthy. I think it will make a difference. And it will be something that they hope — and I suppose we all hope — that can change the next generation of kids’ lives for the better.”

On January 30, the Princess of Wales attended a launch event at BAFTA in central London to mark the beginning of what she has described as a “long-term campaign”.

In a speech, she said: “It is essential, to not only understand the unique importance of our earliest years, but to know what we can all do to help raise future generations of happy, healthy adults.”

Accompanied by her husband Prince William, Kate mingled with supporters of the Royal Foundation and the newly-established Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood.

Shaping Us builds on her already long-established work in this area; since becoming an official member of the Royal Family in 2011, she gradually became aware of the fact that many challenges adults face stem from experiences during childhood.

Working alongside experts, the Princess has studied this area and has been praised for her dedication and leadership on the subject.

She said: “The way we develop, through our experiences, relationships, and surroundings during our early childhood, fundamentally shapes our whole lives. It affects everything from our ability to form relationships and thrive at work, to our mental and physical well-being as adults and the way we parent our own children.

“These are the most preventative years. By focusing our collective time, energy, and resources to build a supportive, nurturing world around the youngest members of our society and those caring for them, we can make a huge difference to the health and happiness of generations to come.”

A 90-second claymation film was also released at the time which told the story of a girl called Layla growing up from birth to age five.

In a statement, Kensington Palace said: “In the film, we see Layla navigate her way through various experiences as a newborn, a toddler and young child, with the help of those around her.

“The film shows how her interactions with people and places — from her parents’ cuddles, to a reassuring arm on her shoulder from a nursery teacher and supportive cheer from a swimming teacher — stimulate her brain and development.”

The announcement came after Kate carried out to relevant engagements: one at a nursery in Luton and the other with a group of eight professionals from academia, science and the early years sector.

On January 18, the Princess joined children, carers and parents at Foxcubs Nursey; she spent time with the three and four-year-olds, describing the children as “great”.

Mr Myers said: “When you get her in those situations where she’s sitting down with school children…she’s kind of in her element and I think that will stand her in good stead to try and work out what these kids, and the families especially from deprived areas around the country, will need.”

Later, on Wednesday, 25 January, Kate sat down with a group of professionals who she had chosen to offer strategic advice and provide oversight of the work of her Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood.

The group, which has expertise in areas across neuroscience, perinatal psychiatry, policy development and psychology, will support the Princess and the Centre “as work is accelerated to promote the fundamental importance of the first five years of a child’s life”, according to Kensington Palace.

Mr Myers said: “I think she’s definitely improved in the last few years. She’s asking more questions…she’s actually being able to evolve her knowledge and present her own findings. I think it is really important. And certainly, the aides would say she is very diligent, she does work hard.”

Kate has spent the past nine years looking into the experiences in early childhood and cultivating a passion and interest that largely dictates the work she undertakes as a working royal.

According to the official Royal Family website, the Princess “wanted to dig deeper into the current early years landscape to understand the issues that we face and learn how we can best tackle them. It was important to listen to the experts, academics, practitioners, service providers and charities within the sector who work every day to make our families and communities stronger”.

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