“Despite the challenges the world encountered in 2020, the Sharjah Child Friendly Office (SCFO) has spared no effort in continuing to protect the rights of children and young people and support them emotionally and physically,” said Dr. Hessa Al Ghazal, Executive Director of SCFO, while describing the accomplishments and activities of the entity during a tumultuous year for the world.
Dr Al Ghazal added: “The significant achievements attained by SCFO during 2020 reflects the sustained efforts of the emirate of Sharjah in proactively addressing the challenges new generations of children and youth face while also raising community and family awareness about their rights and needs.”
“As part of the Office’s ongoing plans and strategies, we have both launched and participated in different events and initiatives to empower families and address issues related to children’s health and safety, in collaboration with other governmental and private entities working for the welfare of children and youth in the emirate.”
Launch of new brand identity
2020 saw the Sharjah Child Friendly Office launch a new brand identity including the creation of a new official logo, to reflect its keenness in adopting a more holistic approach towards the protection and promotion of the rights of children and young adults, encompassing all age groups, abilities and origins. The new brand identity also emphasised SCFO’s vision of creating of a child-friendly, safe, and nurturing environment for children and young adults in the emirate, where their rights are protected and guaranteed.
Relocation of SCFO
SCFO was relocated to the headquarters of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs (SCFA) in Sharjah, bringing it under the purview of the Council. The move followed a resolution issued by Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, and Chairperson of SCFA. The resolution aimed to promote greater collaboration amongst all entities working under the umbrella of SCFA.
Launch of Sharjah Child Friendly Academy
SCFO launched the Sharjah Child Friendly Academy to support institutions and community organisations in improving child-friendly environments and promoting the development of children and youth across the emirate. The Academy is a digital platform designed to establish a comprehensive database of the Office’s workshops, programmes and participants, bringing them all together under one roof. This will facilitate the streamlining of administrative processes and coordination of all activities for affiliated organisations and entities.
Sharjah Baby Friendly Project
With the aim to ensure the sustainability of baby friendly projects and infrastructure in the emirate, SCFO has issued updated standards and indicators for the Sharjah Baby Friendly Project in collaboration with relevant institutions. The office is calling all partners to ensure these standards are implemented to support the project’s sustainability and enhance the quality of programmes.
Participation in community events
SCFO participated in several community events in 2020 in line with its efforts to collaborate with various governmental and private entities and other agencies involved in working for the welfare of children and youth. At the fourth edition of the Sharjah Police Desert Park, the Office set up an interactive maze pavilion designed to enhance the physical, intellectual, and strategic thinking capabilities of children and youth. The maze was inspired by A Mystery in the City, a young adults book commissioned by SCFO in collaboration with Kalimat Publishing in 2019.
Along with Sharjah Urban Planning Council and Sharjah Department of Public Works, SCFO participated in the 10th World Urban Forum in Abu Dhabi. During the event, themed ‘Cities of Opportunities: Connecting Culture and Innovation’, SCFO highlighted their ‘Child-friendly Urban Planning’ project and outlined its objective of introducing children in the emirate to the concepts of urban planning and ways to promote their role in designing public spaces.
In collaboration with Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), SCFO participated in the UAE Hackathon 2020 to provide youth with an opportunity to use open data to promote innovation and contribute to boosting economic growth in the country.
The ‘Child-Friendly Schools’ initiative
As part of their ‘Child-Friendly Schools’ initiative, SCFO organised an introductory meeting and awareness workshops for the principals of government schools and nurseries to introduce them to the criteria of child-friendly education.
COVID-19 awareness initiatives
To raise awareness on how to cope with the new normal in the wake of the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, SCFO participated in a series of awareness events and workshops designed for children, young people, and parents. The Office launched an awareness campaign targeting hospitals, health centres and the local community to advise mothers to continue breastfeeding even if they have contracted COVID-19 by following all recommended safety precautions. The campaign was supported by the Emirates Public Health Association (EPHA).
Under the theme ‘Parenting and COVID-19’, the Office launched a community awareness campaign on social media to instruct parents and families find novel ways of coping with the coronavirus-related challenges and provide them with accurate and reliable information.
SCFO employees participated in 63 local and regional forums and 30 international forums in the past year.
In collaboration with the Sharjah Private Education Authority (SPEA) and as part of its ‘Together We Return’ initiative, SCFO partnered with the Child Safety Department (CSD) to launch an educational e-booklet to mark the reopening of schools in the UAE under COVID-19 precautions.
Through its Sharjah Baby Friendly Project, SCFO launched an awareness campaign for breastfeeding mothers who fast during Ramadan. The campaign aimed to support them with accurate information and advice on right breastfeeding practices to keep them and their babies healthy and safe during the holy month and urged mothers to seek professional medical opinion and consult religious scholars if they feel unable to fast and breastfeed, especially after the outbreak of the pandemic.
In May, the Sharjah Child Friendly Office hosted a meeting of the Executive Committee of the ‘Sharjah Child Friendly City’ project, to discuss children’s rights to emotional, health and education support during the pandemic. The meeting also explored how institutions in the emirate are prepared to support and meet the needs of children and families affected by the pandemic.
SCFA efforts to boost emirate’s child-friendly environment
In keeping with its vision to support institutions and community organisations in adopting and improving child-friendly environments across the emirate, the Sharjah Child Friendly Academy (SCFA) launched an info pack to increase awareness about breastfeeding. Themed ‘From Pregnancy to Breastfeeding’, the pack aims to educate mothers as well as healthcare professionals in maternity and childcare on breastfeeding, fostering it as a social culture while promoting all types of care that should be given to newborns, to boost Sharjah’s child-friendly environment.
Meanwhile, SCFO launched a global creative competition on social media for children and young adults, in connection with the World Children’s Day celebrations, which focused on climate change as the central theme this year. Themed ‘From Sharjah’s Children to the World’, the competition encouraged young participants to create an artwork or write a short story about the importance of protecting the environment and how to combat climate change to ensure a better future for the generations to come.
Source: National Network Communications (NNC)