The WED (World Early Childhood Development) Movement, established by Abu Dhabi’s Early Childhood Authority (ECA), is gearing up to host, in partnership with its Visionary Partner Mubadala, WED Forum on March 15th and 16th, at Yas South Skate Park, in Abu Dhabi. Marking Emirati Children’s Day on March 15th, WED Forum will open its doors to over 250 world-leading policy influencers, academics, practitioners, and innovators from multiple sectors.

The Forum will offer over 50 speakers from the Early Childhood Development (ECD) sector across 14 globally-trending ECD topics.

The WED Forum will aim to inspire members of the Early Childhood Development (ECD) ecosystem to become active change-makers. In addition to identifying prevailing concepts and behaviours and launching effective and meaningful dialogues about the development of young children.

The WED global initiative for Early Childhood Development is unique in its approach, built on a sustainable operating model, in which specialized knowledge groups work on priority topics, of which the outputs will be presented in the forum. This is done in preparation for their implementation in the UAE, in addition to following up their application by Leads and members of the Breakthrough Working Groups (BWGs), to ensure fulfilling the objectives of the WED Movement and reach the best possible results which will ultimately impact the lives of young children in Abu Dhabi and beyond.

The outputs of the BWGs that will be discussed are the result of over nine months of work, during which 110 sessions were organized which included best practices, as well as meetings of technical advisors. 35 sessions and 60 official interviews were conducted with relevant stakeholders, and 10 findings discussions took place in addition to local qualitative research conducted with key audience groups in Abu Dhabi, including parents, children’s and teachers.

With intentions to challenge mindsets and ignite powerful Early Childhood Development (ECD) conversations, the Forum in an opening moment will immerse its delegates in an interactive space, designed to recreate a child’s big life events of growth and development, seen through the eyes of four children with different social backgrounds and profiles.

Then the two-day Forum, themed around ‘Connections’, will explore how purposeful connections are the bedrock of community, the support network that enables every child to be healthy, confident, curious, able to learn, and develop strong values in a safe and family-friendly environment.

WED Forum, serving as a ‘glocal’ knowledge platform, will focus on key challenges identified in the WED Movement’s main themes – Tech Humanity for Children, 21st Century Lifestyle, Emotional Wellbeing and Social Interactions. It will reveal solutions that the team has arrived to over 110 sessions, highlighting Abu Dhabi’s evolving role as an innovation hub in ECD, as well as help set in motion impactful outputs to pressing challenges faced locally and globally.

The Forum program will include sessions, such as ‘How should governments and policymakers address the yet to be known negative impact of technologies used today?’, ‘the mental health needs of digital generations’ and ‘creating a healthy urban network for children to play and exercise safely in a hot climate’ and ‘Reflecting on our systemic responses to the impact of COVID-19 on Children of Determination’.

Each presenting respective challenges, which will then be tackled through in-depth roundtables, gathering local and global changemakers within the ECD ecosystem and beyond, to share best practices, actively consider solutions, and finally propose and devise programs with the potential to influence policy and change.

Dr. Michael Rich, Group Leader for the Tech Humanity for Children Breakthrough Working Group (BWG) said: “I’m thrilled that the day has finally come, where we bring together incredible minds, as we navigate through the learnings and outputs of our extraordinary teams. Our teams have Abu Dhabi at its heart, but the world at mind. Our team will be honing the discussion on ‘Ethical questions around monitoring children’s development through technology’ and many more interesting focuses. I look forward to it.”

Dr Hossam Tatari, a Group member of the 21st Century Lifestyle Breakthrough Working Group (BWG) said: “We are uniquely positioned to support Abu Dhabi in driving extraordinary change in ECD locally and globally. My team and I are committed to using the knowledge and experience of our ever-growing team to drive innovation and help our children grow up healthier, smarter, and more empowered than ever before. The future of our nation, and the world, depends on them.

Dr. Suha Al Hassan, Associate Professor, Special Education - Applied Behavior Analysis, and Group Member of the Emotional Wellbeing and Social Interaction Breakthrough Working Group (BWG) said: “In its first-edition, this Forum intends to grow credibility in this space, through exploration, collaboration and conversation. My team and I strongly mirror ECA’s Vision 2035, in working towards ensuring every young child is provided the best possible opportunity to be healthy, confident, curious, and able to learn and develop strong values in a safe, family-friendly environment, here in Abu Dhabi and beyond.

The Forum will welcome a range of world-renowned speakers such as David Eagleman, American neuroscientist at Stanford, author, and science communicator, Dr. Dimitri Christakis, Director of the Center for Child’s Health, Behaviour and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, Tim Shriver, Chairman of the Special Olympics and educational psychologist, best-selling author, Michele Borba

The WED Movement was launched in 2021 under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority. The Movement aims to spur innovation in the early childhood development sector in Abu Dhabi and beyond through its Breakthrough Working Groups (BWGs), to realize ECA’s vision where Every young child is healthy, self-confident, curious, able to learn and develop strong values in a safe and supportive family environment.

Actively participating in the forum program, the WED Movement’s partners, including Mubadala, the Visionary Partner, Daman and ADNOC as Official Partners, Miral as WED Destination Partner, Manchester City Football Schools UAE, Etihad, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, UNICEF and BvLF as Supporters.

The culmination of the two-day event will be with a Children’s Fun run, open to the public for children (ages 0-8), their families and siblings to participate in a 1km ‘WED Children Challenge’. This activity is organized by Abu Dhabi Sports Council in partnership with Mubadala, and set to take place on Wednesday Evening March 16th