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A good start in life

Early childhood interventions are essential for young children along the different stages of their lives.

Early childhood interventions in the earliest years of a child’s life can have an impact that lasts a lifetime. Children develop cognitive, language and psychosocial skills early in life that lay the foundation for their future. In Belize, government commitment to strengthening early childhood services has led to considerable progress that is helping young children to thrive.

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Effective early childhood interventions involve families and communities. Three-year-old Alishia Gentle (centre) in Belize City has two strong caregivers: her mother, Keisha Gentle (right), and an aunt (Tracy Moody). Alishia’s brother, 17-year-old Andrew (left), is also devoted to her.

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In San Felipe Village, in the Toledo region, Glenda Caal and her family participate in the Roving Caregivers Programme, which targets children up to age 3 with no access to formal early education. Mrs. Caal, holding her daughter, Tyra, 2, has set up a preschool learning space at home.

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In addition to early stimulation, formal and informal education can also improve educational outcomes for young children. Four-year-old Orin — visiting his former preschool with his father, Marshall Mejia, in their hometown of Dangriga — is set to start primary school in a month.

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Responsive and nurturing relationships are important for children’s well-being, particularly during the earliest years. Conzuelo Flores, in Cayo District, provides a caring and stimulating environment for her great-granddaughter, Allizon Stefany Escobar, 4, whose mother works full time.

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In Belize City, Stasha Sheppard works full time and Alex Cain cares for their daughter, Aamree Bermudez, 5, and son, Desmond Cain, 1. Strong, nurturing bonds with primary caregivers and an environment of stable and supportive relationships are also a must for healthy child development.

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Interventions in early childhood work. Sherlette Neal (right) is raising her daughter, Zyrah, 4, in a protective and enriching environment in Belmopan.

“Zyrah’s a fast learner and loves to get involved in so many activities, it’s hard to keep up sometimes but I manage,” Mrs. Neal says.

Learn more about UNICEF’s work on early childhood development.

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