The key to prosperous countries is in early childhood

Countries need to ensure that their children live in optimal conditions for their development even before they are born. There is still much to be done to achieve this goal and one of the best places to start is the design of public policies focused on the wellbeing of early childhood.

Our vision is that children reach their full potential, because they will be the ones who will transform their communities tomorrow. From October 24 to 27, we held the Seminar for the Design of Innovative Public Policies to Transform the Future of Mexico in partnership with the LEGO Foundation in order to unite efforts of the leaders in the public sector.

They were days of much learning and reflection on the importance and urgency with which we must deal with the issue of early childhood development. On this occasion, we would like to share some key insights and lessons from the session presented by Dr. Pat Levitt, an expert in neuroscience, who is currently the scientific director, vice president and director of the Saban Research Institute at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

Dr. Levitt presented scientific evidence that shows that the healthy development of young children provides the solid foundation for healthy and competent adulthood that, in turn, contributes to responsible citizenship, economic productivity, strong communities and fair societies. He presented some key factors for the healthy and prosperous development of children:

– The brain is built with time from the bottom to the top; simple skills produce more complex skills.
– Together, genes and experiences build the brain.
– Cognitive, social and emotional development are intertwined.
– Toxic stress damages the structure of the brain.
– Resilience is not an inner strength of personality. It is built through the combined impacts of genes and experiences of the child.
– For many functions, the plasticity of the brain decreases with time, but not all functions are affected in the same way.
– The development of children is the basis for prosperous communities.

What are the most important aspects for children to develop healthily? They need to grow up in an environment of supportive relationships that promote the development of critical skills which allow them to learn, control their emotions, solve complex problems and have relationships with others.

This healthy development is what we want for our children in Latin America and we at FEMSA Foundation have our eyes set on this. We intend that, through scalable, innovative, and collective action models, our children achieve their maximum development potential and transform their communities. The key to prosperous countries starts from the beginning.